• SAPZ will address food insecurity, create millions of agro-industrial jobs – Osinbajo


• USAID, FMARD, others collaborate to end hunger in Nigeria


‘Seun Ibukun-Oni, Enock Reuben, Abuja


DAILY COURIER – The African Development Bank (AfDB) has challenged Nigeria to achieve a “zero hunger” status, adding that with her vast agricultural resources, its citizens have no business being hungry.


President of the bank, Akinwumi Adesina, said this at the official launch of the Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones in Nigeria on Monday.


Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, has said that the Special Agro-industrial Processing Zones (SAPZ) programme will address food insecurity and create millions of good-paying, agro-industrial jobs.


Osinbajo made this submission in his keynote address at the inauguration of SAPZ programme in Abuja on Monday.


The SAPZ programme is a government-enabled and private sector-led initiative to moblise private sector investment to develop value chains for selected strategic crops and livestock in participating states.


Osinbajo said that the programme, which was recently approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC), is a major cross-cutting value chain investment effort.


He said it was driven by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, in alignment with the National Agricultural Technology and Innovation Policy of the federal government to incentivise agro-industrialisation for private sector development.


“So, specifically, the SAPZ programme is designed to develop multiple clusters of Agricultural Transformation Centres (ATCs) and Agro-Industrial Hubs (AIHs) within major clusters of high agricultural production.


“The clusters where functional infrastructure like roads, power, water and communication are provided to attract private investment into modern agro-processing and value addition to locally produced crops, livestock and related agribusiness activities.


“So, where a zone has an advantage in rice production for example, the well-resourced SAPZ would be located there to bring together agricultural producers, processors, aggregators and distributors to operate in the production, processing and industrialization of rice.


“The SAPZ programme is a five-year programme, being implemented by the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) in partnership with the African Development Bank (AfDB), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), state governments and private investors, in seven participating states.


“The states are Kano, Imo, Kaduna, Cross River, Kwara, Oyo, Ogun and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT)”, Osinbajo said.


He said that the programme is expected, in the first phase, to achieve the following: import substitution, which will reduce Nigeria’s current food import bill, boost revenue from agricultural exports, create wealth for rural farming communities and create new sustainable jobs, especially for women and youths.


The vice-president said that the programme is also expected to stem rural-urban migration, boost rural livelihoods and revive stranded public and private-sector funded assets and decisively improve food security.


He said the programme is targeted at vastly improving the business environment for agro-industrial processors as it would improve their productivity and enable value addition for inclusive and adaptive economic growth.


“The programme is now a critical component of our agricultural strategy, which is to accelerate the industrialization of our agricultural sector with the objective of being ahead of our constraints in providing food, nutrition and wealth for the largest population in our continent.


“The first phase is in eight locations, in the next phase we will bring on board another 18 states; the SAPZs also stand to benefit from two salutary developments.


“First is technology and innovation; there has been an incredible upsurge in the number of agric tech startups in Nigeria all along the entire agriculture value chain.


“Some of those innovations have vastly improved the quality of inputs, some use innovation to improve yields, some exponentially increase investments in agri-businesses by various crowd-funding techniques.


“The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) is also set to deploy innovative technology and digital skill sets to support the implementation of the SAPZs,’’ he said.


Osinbajo said that the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) opened up for Nigeria, an opportunity to be the breadbasket and the agri-business hub of the region.


He said that convergence of resource and opportunity “is certainly auspicious for the great impact that we look forward to from the SAPZs.


The AfDB boss commiserated with the Federal Government on the flooding that is devastating the country, recalled how he had to deal with the worst floods in Nigeria when he was Minister of Agriculture.


He said that while floods may wash away some land and harvests, the government must not let the hopes of farmers to be washed away.


He described agriculture as being critical for the survival of any nation, adding that the most important role of any nation is to feed its people.


He said, “Food is a fundamental human right. Africa faces huge challenges in meeting its food needs, with 283 million people that go hungry annually.


“Yet Africa has massive agricultural potential. With 65 per cent of the uncultivated arable land left to feed over 9 billion people in the world by 2050 being in Africa, what Africa does with agriculture will determine the future of food in the world.


“The story is no different in Nigeria, despite positive efforts that have been made to improve the agricultural sector. Food is now beyond the reach of many.”


According to the Global Hunger Index (2022), released just a week ago, Nigeria ranks 103rd among 121 countries facing hunger crisis in the world.


“Hunger in Nigeria cannot be justified. Nigeria has the land, with 34 million hectares of arable land with rich and diverse agroecology.


“It has the water. It has the labor. It has great sunshine.

Nigeria must achieve zero hunger. There is no reason for anyone to go hungry in Nigeria”, he added.


To help turn this situation around for African countries, Adesina recalled that he prioritized agriculture when he was first elected President of the African Development Bank in 2015.


Since then, he told the gathering that the African Development Bank has committed $25bn to investments in agriculture.


In the past six years, he said the African Development Bank’s financing for agriculture has provided over 76 million farmers with improved agricultural technologies for food security.


Through its Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT), he added that the Bank has also provided 12 million farmers with improved climate smart agricultural technologies within three years.


He stated, “The African Development Bank is also supporting Nigeria, through TAAT, to produce more wheat, rice and maize.


“This support will allow Nigeria to cultivate by next year 900,000 hectares of rice, 250,000 hectares of wheat and 107,000 hectares of maize.


“If Ethiopia can do it, Nigeria can do it. If Sudan can do it, Nigeria can do it. However, to achieve these results, Nigeria must decisively tackle insecurity challenges that prevent farmers from going to their farms.


“The private sector cannot invest when there is insecurity. Food security needs national security. The African Development Bank is strongly supporting Nigeria. We have always done so.”


Adesina put the African Development Bank’s portfolio in Nigeria at $4.6bn, stating that this shows the high priority that the bank accord to Nigeria, across several sectors.


To boost food production in Nigeria, he noted that the bank is already investing $522m, with additional co-financing of $420m from partners.


For the project, he said the African Development Bank is providing $210m for the development of the SAPZs in Nigeria.


Adesina said, “We are delighted with our partnership with the Islamic Development Bank which is co-financing with $150 million, and with the International Fund for Agricultural Development which is co-financing with $160 million.


“The SAPZ program in Nigeria is the largest in Africa. The commitment of the Minister of Agriculture is strong. The commitment by the Minister of Finance is strong.


“The commitment by the State Governors is very strong. The SAPZs in Nigeria are being developed closely with the State Governments.”


USAID, FMARD, others collaborate to end hunger in Nigeria


In line with the United Nations Assembly calls on ensuring food sufficiency and access to safe and nutritious food for all, the United States Agency for International Development, USAID, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, FMARD with other development groups have collaborated to ensure food security in Nigeria.


In a recent workshop organized by USAID and other donor groups to mark 2022 world Food Day, the Technical Advisor, Advancing Nutrition Project, USAID, Mr. Michael Evashoyan, made this submission.


Evashoyan, stated that the door is widely opened for other donors to support the promotion and advancement of the food system for the purpose of enhancing food security and nutritious food in Africa particularly Nigeria, made it open that the USAID Advancing Project has developed over 10,000 farmers in Sokoto, Bauchi and Kebbi.


In his message on the occasion, Michael further stated that, they are now getting data to support programming and intervention, adding that effort by some federal ministries, USAID Advancing Nutrition project and others are on the to gear to ensure that there is food security and nutritious foods for average Nigerians to enjoy Michael added.


“For us as a project, USAID Advancing Nutrition Project, is prepared to support the government of Nigeria technically on providing solutions to nutrition issues and that is why this World Food Day celebration and the theme of experts we have put together to deliver papers and discuss with participants is very key to our activities.


“USAID Advancing Nutrition project, is currently working in Kebbi, Sokoto and Bauchi states, we are trying to incorporate the Federal Capital Territory, FCT as well as Ebonyi state. The choice of these states is the function of nutrition data that is publicly being published by NDHS.


“We are involved in a lot of researches; we are already working on consumer demand research across the three states. We are working on adolescent nutrition formative research across the

three states to generate data that can serve the country”


Also speaking at the event, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, FMARD, Dr. Ernest Umakhihi, appreciated the effort of the donor partners, particularly USAID Advancing Nutrition, Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, Harvest Fields, HarvestPlus and Eat Safe Project of USAID, for their relentless efforts and support to Nigeria with a view to making sure that Nigerians consume wholesome and nutritious meals for healthy living for all.


She said, the health and economic problems brought by the Covid-19 pandemic have increased the tendencies for the vulnerable household to consume less nutritious foods leading to increased health burden of millions of vulnerable households during and after the Covid-19.


However, the Permanent Secretary stated that in line with the United Nations agreement on ensuring access to safe and nutritious food for all, the FMARD in collaboration with other key partners in the food system will continue to promote nutrition sensitive agriculture in order to correct malnutrition in all perspectives.


He stressed that: “To this effect, we are committed to taking necessary steps and actions to ensure access to safe and nutritious food, boost nature-positive production and building resilience to vulnerabilities.”


Mr. Earnest said “that the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rurul Development is also giving support to the vulnerable households to produce nutritious food at the household settings.


Earnest further said this program is warped with the “Operation Feed Yourself Summit” adopted in the last UN Food System as a sure implement and food safety instrument, ensuring unrestrained access to nutritious and safe food at both household and community levels.