The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), on Wednesday, identified Nigeria as the powerhouse for agro-industrialisation across the African continent.
Ms Katherine Meighan, Associate Vice-President and General Counsel for IFAD said this at the ongoing Strategic Partners and Investors Forum on the Launch of the Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones (SAPZ) in Abuja.
Meighan said that Nigeria is blessed with fertile land and a vibrant young population with over 88 per cent of arable land.
She further said that 75 per cent of the country’s population is younger than 24 years old.
According to her, Nigeria has the largest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the largest population in Africa.
She added that Nigeria is well positioned as a powerhouse for agro-industrialisation across the continent.
“Smallholder formers which constitute 70 per cent of Nigerian farmers are the key to this transformation; together, they produce up to 90 per cent of the national output.
“IFAD is laser-focused on financing such smallholder farmers to increase productivity and build resilient rural communities.
“Its mission is to invest in small-scale farmers and producers to build local food security and support vibrant rural communities,” Meighan said.
She identified the involvement of the private sector as critical for the successful implementation of SAPZ using the four P model which entails Public Private Producer Partnership.
Meighan who reaffirmed that the private sector is a key growth engine for rural economies encouraged them to take full advantage of the SAPZ platform.
“IFAD has a decades-long successful track record of using the four P model to bring significant benefits to all involved.
“Olam Nigeria built a new mill in 2014 to process rice but had major challenges in finding farmers to bring their rice for processing.
“After working successfully with the four P models since 2016 in the IFAD-supported VCDP project, Olam has increased its milling capacity by 10 times.
“lt now has a highly reliable supply of rice brought to the mill regularly and much higher quality rice than can be found in the market. This is a major success for the private sector partner.”
She said the model was a major success for the rice producers who have more than doubled their income through the project and as well supply much higher quality at a higher market price.
Dr Mohammad Abubakar, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, said SAPZ is a government-enabled but private sector-led programme established for inclusive growth and development.
Abubakar said the ministry would provide more support for the SAPZ programme to facilitate a huge flow of investment into modern agro-processing and value addition.
“Our strategic partnership with the state governments, relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and the private sector will be strengthened through the enablement of agro-industrialisation policy facilitation of the right mix of incentives for agribusiness ecosystem around SAPZ,” Abubakar said.
Prof. Oyebanjo Oyelaran-Oyeyinka, Senior Special Adviser to African Development Bank (AfDB) President on Industrialisation said SAPZ goals enhance production, reduce post-harvest loss, increase value addition and reduce operational cost and transaction cost among others.
The key outcome of the programme according to him, is to reduce food imports, assured food security, create wealth for rural farmers and enhance inclusive growth and development.
Mr Lamin Barrow, Director-General of African American Bank (AfDB), said the guiding principles for the development of the SAPZs are for the government to provide the enabling infrastructure.
Barrow also listed land for the agri-industrial hubs as an enabler for private sector investments.
According to him, to strengthen agriculture transformation centres and aggregation centres, the programme integrates robust capacity building for agricultural production for farmers and other value chain shareholders, particularly youth.
“Phase one of the SAPZ programme has identified the development of rice, cassava, maize, groundnut, sesame, tomato, sorghum, soybeans, cocoa, oil palm, poultry, dairy, beef and fishery value chains in the following locations.
“Paiko-kore/Dobi Livestock Industrial Hub Gwagwalada Area Council of the FCT, Bagauda Agro-Industrial Hub in Kano State Sagamu Agro Industrial Hub in Ogun State Ijaiye Agro Industrial Hub in Oyo State.
“GAAIZ Hub in Kaduna State Lata-Nna Grazing Reserve Special Livestock Processing Hub in Kwara State, Ikom Agro-Industrial Hub in Cross River State and Okigwe Special Livestock Processing Hub in Imo State,” Barrow said.