The Africa Development Bank (AfDB) has reaffirmed its commitment towards the Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones (SAPZ) project in Nigeria.
Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development, of the Bank, Dr. Beth Dunford, gave the assurance when she led a delegation of senior Directors on a visit to the site of the SAPZ hub in Paikon-Kore Grazing Reserve in Gwagwalada Area Council of the FCT.
Recall that four development partners had committed a total sum of $520 million for the development of the first phase of Special Agro-industrial Processing Zones (SAPZ) in some selected states across Nigeria.
The Federal Capital Territory (FCT), as one of selected areas for the first phase of the project, has been intensifying efforts towards the establishment of the agro-processing hub in its territory.
Dunford expressed satisfaction with the level of preparedness on the part of the FCT Administration noting that the establishment of the Agro-Processing Zones was critical to transforming Nigeria’s agricultural sector, and by extension, the economy.
In her words, “I am really impressed with what is on ground. I think we know that the Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones are incredibly important for really transforming Nigerian agriculture.
“And to really transform the economy, we all know we have to start with agriculture and this is a way to really bring together the businesses, the infrastructure that we need to fuel the businesses, to add value to provide more jobs, more opportunities and to really turn the small farmers in this area into commercial farmers to improve their livelihood opportunities.
“And what I see here today translates to mean that you all have put all of your efforts and your brains and your time, and your expertise into really building this amazing effort. So, we in the African Development Bank are really excited about partnering with the government of Nigeria to make this happen, to make this happen quickly on the continent”.
According to her, with the commitment shown by the government, Nigeria could be a model for the rest of the continent to transform their agriculture sector.
Dunford, therefore, assured of AfDB’s support to drive the government’s efforts to fruition.
On his part, chairman of the ministerial committee on SAPZ, Prof. Muhammad Usman, lauded the entire board and management of the African Development Bank for continued commitments towards the establishment of the project in the FCT
Usman noted that the FCT administration had committed resources to provide complementary counterpart support needed to ensure a smooth take-off of the project.
The project, according to the Chair, will help to achieve two developmental objectives; one of which is to partner with the private sector to ensure that we create jobs for the youth, and the second is to help us build the economy to lift people out of poverty.
In a statement signed by the S.A (Media) to FCT Minister of State, Austine Elemue, the administration believes that the SAPZ occupies a very important pride of place because agriculture is the mainstay of the people, and the partnership will add value to the communities.