Seven newly elected Nigerian State Governors visited the African Development Bank Group (www.AfDB.org) in Abidjan to strengthen cooperation and unlock the country's vast agricultural potential.
The delegation, meeting with Bank President Dr Akinwumi Adesina, was led by Katsina State Governor Mallam Dikko Umar Radda, and included Governors Dr Nasiru Idris of Kebbi State, Alhaji Umar Namadi of Jigawa, Zamfara’s Dr Dauda Lawal, and Deputy Governors Aminu Abdussalam from Kano, Dr Hadiza Sabuwa Balarabe representing Kaduna, and Idris Mohammed Gobir of Sokoto.
With an estimated 60 million people which is 28% of the country’s population, North West Nigeria is home to 10 million of the country’s 22 million heads of cattle. The zone has the highest incidence of poverty and food insecurity due to inadequate infrastructure, weak extension services, limited value addition and poor integration into domestic and regional markets.
Discussions in Abidjan focused on boosting food production, nutrition and security, as well as innovative ways to unleash the zone’s rich agriculture potential and fast-track the implementation of Special Agro-industrial Processing Zones (SAPZs).
Other priority areas included opportunities to leverage the African Development Bank’s renewable energy programmes including its $20 billion Desert-to-Power initiative that will deliver 10,000MW of solar energy to nearly 250 million people across the Sahel region.
Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones are designed to promote increased productivity, value addition and market access through government-enabled and private sector-driven investments to develop strategic commodity value chains. The SAPZ program was launched in in Nigeria in October 2022.
Adesina said the Bank and its partners have targeted $1 billion in financing to expand the SAPZ program in Nigeria, to support up to 25 of the country’s 36 states. He urged the governors to collaboratively and promptly select agricultural hubs to host the schemes.
“These zones will benefit local farmers and create jobs throughout the value chains. They will provide unprecedented opportunities to transform commodities into high-value products, reduce waste and post-harvest losses, boost incomes, increase profits, and plough money back into your rural economies.”
Noting the zone’s endowments in livestock, particularly cattle, Adesina underscored the area’s potential for meat processing. “I would like us to have a substantive conversation about establishing beef processing zones in the North West zone.”
The Bank has financed several projects in the North West zone including the $85 million Zaria Water Supply and Sanitation Project, which provides water to 650,000 people and sanitation services to 350,000. Two of states from the zone, Kano and Kaduna, are part of Phase One of the SAPZ program.
The National Agriculture Growth Scheme (Agro-Pocket or NAGS) received $134 million in budget support funding under the Bank Group’s Africa Emergency Food Production Facility. The scheme targets increased wheat and rice production during the 2023 dry season and through the 2024 wet season in five states. The scheme will help reduce some of the country’s current $3 billion expenditure on wheat imports.
Governor Radda commended Adesina’s leadership of the African Development Bank and for serving as a good ambassador for Nigeria and Africa.
He said the North West governors decided to adopt a coordinated approach in collaborating with the Bank to implement agriculture and power projects that will drive the zone’s development and improve livelihoods. “We have commonalities in people, approaches, culture, tradition, topography, rainfall and climate,” he added.
Adesina applauded the regional approach of the North West Governors, assuring them the Bank will offer to support the development of a regional strategy.
Governor Radda said the lack of irrigation infrastructure was among the key challenges in the zone, leading to low yields, post-harvest losses due to poor storage facilities, youth unemployment and underemployment, and fuelling insecurity.
Alhaji Umar Namadi of Jigawa State said his administration is prioritizing strategic partnerships that advance rural infrastructure, farm mechanization and climate-smart agriculture.
Representing Kaduna State, the Deputy Governor Dr Hadiza Sabuwa Balarabe said, “We are optimistic that the special agro-industrial processing zones will assist us in overcoming many challenges, just as it will propel us to achieve food self-sufficiency, job and wealth creation, and subsequently boost economic growth, especially the rural economy.”
According to Governor Dr Dauda Lawal, Zamfara state “is an agrarian economy. We have abundant lands for agriculture and have the largest dam in the country.” He said with sufficient water and land resources, the State can produce enough to feed Nigeria, particularly in rice and wheat.
Lawal said being home to the largest dam in the country and having significant mineral deposits including gold and lithium, Zamfara can make rapid gains in eradicating poverty and creating wealth for its population.
The Governor of Kebbi State Dr Nasiru Idris stressed the centrality of agriculture to the state’s fortunes. “Nearly 70% of our population is reliant on agriculture,” he said.
The state is prioritising the creation of economic opportunities for youth and women. He said Kebbi is dedicated to participating in the Desert-to-Power programme to revive moribund industries in the state.
The Deputy Governor of Kano State, Aminu Abdussalam, said the state is working to revamp more than 20 idle dams to drive economic activity, while the Deputy Governor of Sokoto State, Idris Mohammed Gobir said programmes to bolster beef and milk production, and improve higher education for youth, are priorities.
Across the continent, the African Development Bank has committed $853 million to develop 24 Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones in 11 countries. This investment has attracted $661 million in co-financing from Bank Group partners. The Nigeria SAPZs are the continent’s largest and most ambitious, in terms of scope and size.
The Bank’s Executive Director for Nigeria, Samson Oyebode Oyetunde, urged the governors to urgently develop agribusiness development plans to benefit from the current global attention to agriculture and food production.
The meeting featured presentations on the SAPZs, the Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) programme and the Desert-to-Power initiative.
At the recently held Africa Investment Forum Market Days event in Marrakech, the African Development Bank, Afreximbank, the Islamic Development Bank, Arise Integrated Industrial Platforms and other partners launched the Alliance for Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones with an initial investment commitment of $3 billion to transform Africa’s rural areas into zones of prosperity.
“The African Development Bank Group remains resolute and committed to supporting the Nigerian Government to mitigate the impacts of the high food and energy prices prevailing in the country,” Adesina said. He explained, “Food price inflation stands today at 33%, and it accounts for 65% of the consumer price index. By providing the North West—whose development is critical for Nigeria—with affordable renewable energy that will power our planned Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones, we would have gone a long way in taming inflation in Nigeria.”
The African Development Bank Group has invested more than $10 billion in Nigeria since it started operations in the country in 1971. Its active portfolio in Nigeria includes 48 operations worth $4.4 billion.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of African Development Bank Group (AfDB).
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Communication and External Relations