By Mustapha Sumaila
Abuja – The African Development Bank (AfDB) has pledged to support the Federal Government to provide infrastructure development to boost Agro-business in the country.
The President of the bank, Dr Akinwumi Adesina made the pledge in Abuja on Tuesday at the AfDB Investors Forum on promoting “Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones (SAPZs)’’.
Represented by his Special Adviser on Industrialisation, Prof. Banji Oyelaran-Oyeyinka, Adesina said the bank would ensure support on improved export capacity of agricultural products at land borders, seaports and airports.
“The Federal Government of Nigeria shall be supported (through the AfDB) to invest in farms to market roads and provide infrastructure.
“Crowd in private Anchor investors will be supported through the AfDB’s private sector window to invest in crop production, crop yield enchantment, agro-processing and other country situated value addition capabilities,’’ Adesina said.
He said the broad objectives for the establishment of SAPZs were to raise income, eliminate unemployment, especially youth joblessness, reduce food import bill to the barest minimum and reduce prices of high-value food products.
According to him, this will be done by raising productivity of the following Agro-industry sub-sectors, Agriculture, Forestry, Livestock and Fisheries production and through value addition to these materials by way of agro-industrial processing.
“In specific terms, we want to promote private local and foreign investments in agribusiness, increase the contribution of the agriculture sector to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), foster wealth and employment creation, especially jobs for the youth.
“We will bring basic infrastructure to rural areas, link smallholder producers and SMEs in priority value chains.
“The SAPZ we believe will lead to a doubling or tripling of the GDP of rural areas in a way that bridges the Rural-Urban Divide,’’ he said.
The president added that the High Income Economies (HIEs), the share of agribusiness in GDP was substantially higher than that of agriculture.
According to him, the ratio of the share of agribusiness to that of primary agriculture is typically higher and greater than the per capita income of the country.
“Globally, the agri-food industry which is a sub-set of manufacturing agro-industrial processing is the largest subsector of the manufacturing industry, representing 10 to 30 per cent of this sector.
“This sector had more than 40 million employees in 2018, it is eight and five times of both, bigger than the global Information Technology (IT) and automotive industry.
“In the 1980s/1990’s, the economies of Southern and Northern parts of Nigeria, especially Kaduna and Kano States were driven by agro-industrial sub-sectors namely: cotton and textile production.
“These states had several mills, Kaduna had about 10 textile mills with direct employment of more than 10,000 workers and over 20,000 indirect employment from allied industry.
“The United Textile Company alone employed more than one million workers. This country was on the way to becoming an undisputable player in the major supplier of good quality wax-resistant textiles known as Ankara. Today we have become a consumption economy.
“Before the Asian countries took over and dominated this sector just like others, the textile industry was generating on the average two billion dollars per year with no less than 180 textile factories all over the country.
“For many in this hall today, names such as United Textile Company, Aba Textile Mills, Afprint, Arewa Textile Mills, Gaskiya Textile factory and others great in oil palm, forestry, fisheries, leather are all a faded memory.’’
According to him, destiny beckons to all to return to the sustainable path of manufacturing.
Adesina disclosed that SAPZ initiative would be implemented through identification of raw materials and communities as well as locations engaged in the production of strategic materials.
He said there was the need to agree and create the knowledge and infrastructure capacity for production enhancement, processing and quality export at competitive prices, sustainable national self-sufficiency and attain food security.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that participants of the forum were drawn from the public and private sectors in the Agro-industries.