Juliana Agbo, Abuja
THE Federal Government is setting up Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones (SAPZ) as a major strategy in the economic diversification programme and repositioning for sustainable growth and development.
The SAPZ which are to be built around brown fields areas with developed and existing infrastructure such as rails, roads, power and irrigation systems, is being developed with the support and collaboration of the African Development Bank (AfDB) and financiers like International Finance Corporation (IFC) and African Export-Import Bank (AFREXIM Bank).
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Sabo Nanono who made this known on Monday at the Inception Workshop in Abuja, marking the take-off of the project in the six geo-political, said that the plan is to develop the SAPZs within a period of three years across the country in areas where core economic value can be unleashed for the benefit of the rural population.
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Nanono noted that agricultural mechanisation will be the main vehicle for strategically implementing the SAPZ program on an intense scale.
He stated that the processing zones will boost value addition to agriculture, improve competitiveness and in effect, reduce food imports, assure food sufficiency, create jobs for teaming youths and in turn grow the nation’s economy by generating revenue.
According to him, SAPZ is aimed at helping to develop competitive processing capacity through the promotion of private sector investment, enabled by investment in public goods, policy interventions and the provision of desirable support services and skills development.
“The core implementing Agencies include the Nigeria Agricultural Insurance Corporation, the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), Bank of Industry, and Bank of Agriculture among others broke into four cluster groups to appraise critical commodities in the value chain and proffer the way forward”.
However, the Senior Special Adviser on Industrialisation, AfDB, Professor Oyebanji Oyeyinka in his presentation, said the SAPZ would enhance productivity, reduce post harvest losses, reduce cost of operation, and increase value addition
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