AfDB boss commends Nigerian governors on regional devt. approach

By Lucy Ogalue
Seven newly elected Nigerian Governors visited the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group President, Akinwumi Adesina, in Abidjan to strengthen cooperation and unlock the country’s vast agricultural potential.

A statement issued by the Bank on Saturday, said the delegation was led by Katsina State Governor Dikko Radda.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that governors Nasiru Idris of Kebbi State, Alhaji Umar Namadi of Jigawa, and Dr Dauda Lawal of Zamfara were among the delegation .

Deputy governors Aminu Abdussalam from Kano, Dr Hadiza Balarabe representing Kaduna, and Idris Gobir of Sokoto was also part of the delegation.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that with an estimated 60 million people, which is 28 per cent of the country’s population, North West Nigeria is home to 10 million of the country’s 22 million heads of cattle.

Discussions in Abidjan focused on boosting food production, nutrition, and security as well as innovative ways to unleash the zone’s rich agricultural potential.

It also aimed to fast-track the implementation of Special Agro-industrial Processing Zones (SAPZs) and leverage AfDB’s renewable energy programmes.

Adesina applauded the regional approach of the North West Governors while assuring them that the Bank would support the development of a regional strategy.

The AfDB president said the Bank and its partners targeted one billion dollars in financing to expand the SAPZ programme in Nigeria to support up to 25 of the country’s 36 states.

Adesina urged the governors to collaboratively and promptly select agricultural hubs to host the schemes.

According to the AfDB boss, the bank is working with the Federal Government of Nigeria to tackle high food and energy prices.

“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.

“They will reduce waste and post-harvest losses, boost incomes, increase profits, and plough money back into your rural economies,” he said.

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 dollars Zaria Water Supply and Sanitation Project, which provides water to 650,000 people and sanitation services to 350,000.

“Two states from the zone, Kano and Kaduna, are part of Phase One of the SAPZ programme.

“The National Agriculture Growth Scheme (Agro-Pocket or NAGS) received 134 million dollars in budget support funding under the Bank Group’s Africa Emergency Food Production Facility.

According to Adesina, the scheme targets increased wheat and rice production during the 2023 dry season and through the 2024 wet season in five states.

He said the scheme will help reduce some of the country’s current three billion dollars expenditure on wheat imports.

Governor Radda commended Adesina’s leadership of the Bank and for serving as a good ambassador for Nigeria and Africa.

In his remarks, the Katsina governor said the North West governors decided to adopt a coordinated approach in collaborating with the Bank to implement agriculture and power projects to drive the zone’s development and improve livelihoods.

“We have commonalities in people, approaches, culture, tradition, topography, rainfall, and climate.

“The lack of irrigation infrastructure is 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,” Radda said.

Also soeaking, the Jigawa State governor said his administration prioritised strategic partnerships that advance rural infrastructure, farm mechanisation and climate-smart agriculture.

Representing Kaduna State, the Deputy Governor Balarabe said, “we are optimistic that the SAPZswould assist us in overcoming many challenges.

“This is even just as it will propel us to achieve food self-sufficiency, job and wealth creation, and subsequently boost economic growth, especially the rural economy,” she said.

Similarly, Governor Lawal of Zamfara said the state was an agrarian economy.

We have abundant agricultural land and the largest dam in the country.

He said the state could produce enough to feed Nigeria, particularly rice and wheat, with sufficient water and land resources.

Lawal said that being home to the largest dam in the country and having significant mineral deposits, including gold and lithium, Zamfara could make rapid gains in eradicating poverty and creating wealth for its population.

Meanwhile, the governor of Kebbi State highlighted the centrality of agriculture to the state’s fortunes, saying nearly 70 per cent of its population was reliant on agriculture.

He said the state was prioritising creating economic opportunities for the youth and women and was dedicated to participating in the Desert-to-Power programme to revive moribund industries in the state.

The Deputy Governor of Kano State said the state was working to revamp more than 20 idle dams to drive economic activity.

Also, the Deputy Governor of Sokoto State, Gobir, said programmes to bolster beef and milk production and improve higher education for youth were priorities.

NAN reports that the AfDB has committed about 853 million dollars to develop 24 SAPZs in 11 countries.

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 Oyetunde, urged the governors to 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, AfDB and its partners inaugurated the Alliance for Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones with an initial investment commitment of three billion dollars to transform Africa’s rural areas into zones of prosperity.

The 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 programme was inaugurated in Nigeria in October 2022.

(www.

nannews.

ng)
========-=====Edited by Ese E.

Eniola Williams

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