The Sun Voice of the Nation, published an article by Dr.Akinwumi Adeshina, Nigeria’s former minister of agriculture and current President of the African Development Bank Group, on the role of AFDB and food security in Nigeria.
Dr. Adeshina reports that Nigeria’s massive agricultural belt is estimated to be about 43 million hectares representing 37% of Nigeria’s total land mass of 92 million hectares displays locked agro-economic potential that is wasting away because of a lack of investments.
“Between Benue state, reputed to be Nigeria’s food basket and Cross River state, which is sitting on one of the most fertile of Nigeria’s arable land, I saw heaps of food produce ranging from root crops to legumes and fruits to vegetables rotting away due to a lack of preservation, processing, packaging and logistics facilities to move them from farmsteads to designated markets,” he states.
Many farm produce are left to waste after harvesting, and farmers are left to salvage whatever they can from their year round labour of clearing, planting and nurturing their food crops; forced to sell them at low prices because if travellers don’t buy them, they will go waste hours later. This is the same story across Nigeria’s rural farming communities from east to west and north to south. Agricultural economics estimate that as high as 60 per cent of Nigeria’s total harvests go to waste between the farm and the nearest roadside market. This situation has left the bulk of Nigeria’s rural farming communities, impoverished and economically disempowered, which is a major disincentive against the cultural occupation of farming in Nigeria, particularly among the youths, who are now increasingly drawn to the urban areas in search of better jobs, the article highlights.
Dr. Akinwumi Adeshina believes that despite Nigeria’s huge agricultural potentials, which includes vast arable lands that are fertile and made conducive for farming by mild weather conditions, Nigeria is suffering from acute food insecurity as it is unable to feed its 200 million people from its 34 million hectares of arable land. In a report processed in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimated that 19.4 million people in Nigeria will face food crisis in 2022, due to insecurity and disruption of farming activities in states such as Borno, Katsina, Kaduna, Benue and Zamfara. To overcome the effect of insecurity on Nigeria’s already depressed agricultural economy, the FAO urged government to allocate more funds into the design and implementation of a national food systems transformation action plan.
However, at the Nigeria International Economic Partnership Forum side line event of the United Nations 77th General Assembly in New York, September 2022, Dr Akinwumi Adeshina, Nigeria’s former minister of agriculture and current President of the African Development Bank Group, pledged a commitment to help mobilize the much needed investments into Nigeria’s agricultural sector. According to Dr Adeshina, “To help unlock its huge agricultural potential, the African Development Bank, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, and the Islamic Development Bank have provided $ 540 million to develop Special Agro-industrial processing zones. This financing will boost food and agribusiness value chain across Nigeria and make Nigeria more competitive.”
Approximately one month later, on the 24th day of October 2022, the African Development Bank Group in keeping faith with its earlier commitment led a consortium of international development partners to launch the Nigerian Agro-industrial Processing Zones [SAPZ]. A government enabled and a private sector led initiative that seeks to mobilize private capital to develop value chains crops and livestock production in some selected states in Nigeria in the first phase. A total amount of $538.50 million has been mobilized for the first phase out of which the African Development Bank is providing the sum of $ 210 million, while the International Fund for Agricultural Development along with Green Climate Fund are providing the combined sum of $160 million. The Islamic Development Bank is to provide $150.52 million, the federal government of Nigeria, $2.01 million and the participating states are to provide their counterpart fund of $16.01 million.
The Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones [SAPZ] is a flagship programme under its Feed Africa Strategy, with an objective to extend agro-economic infrastructure in high potential rural agrarian communities, mobilize Public/Private investments in order to spur socio-economic development along Africa’s agricultural zones.
The AFDB is currently developing SAPZs in 18 Regional Member Countries across the continent with eleven projects already under implementation in Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Guinea, Mali, Madagascar, Senegal and Togo. Others are Liberia, DRC, Mozambique and recently Nigeria. In Nigeria, the seven participating states in the first phase of the SAPZ programme include, Cross Rivers, Imo, Kano, Kaduna, Kwara, Ogun, Oyo and the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja.
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