Nigeria recently received $538.05m in agricultural grants from African Development Bank (AfDB), Islamic Development Bank and International Fund for Agricultural Development for the first phase of the Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones (SAPZ) programme.
President Muhammadu Buhari, speaking at the just-ended “Feed Africa Summit” of Heads of State and Government, in Dakar, Senegal, applauded the efforts of the AfDB in launching the SAPZ, saying that he had launched the scheme in Nigeria in October 2022.
Buhari said the SAPZ in the first phase, will cover seven states in the federation” according to a statement by Femi Adesina, his media aide.
On the SAPZ funding for Nigeria, President Buhari said: “I am pleased with the partnership approach used for Nigeria by the multilateral financing institutions. With the AfDB providing $210 million, the Islamic Development Bank and the International Fund for Agricultural Development providing $310 million, and the Government of Nigeria providing $18.05 million.
‘‘These very innovative public-private partnership models will help us to transform the agriculture sector much faster and use it to generate wealth.
‘‘They will also allow our countries to develop integrated infrastructure around our agricultural processes and add value to the production of crops, livestock, and fisheries,’’ he said.
The president, in his goodwill message, urged African leaders to demonstrate political will and re-commit themselves to the transformation of agriculture in the continent, to enhance food security.
He also called on his counterparts to embrace innovative policies that ensure that the continent’s citizens eat what they produce as well as export the surplus.
With the rising inflation globally and the effects of the Russia-Ukraine conflict that have driven up food prices, especially for basic staples such as wheat and maize, the Nigerian leader listed measures that African leaders must take to change the status quo.
‘‘We must ensure that we feed ourselves today, tomorrow, and well into the future. The starting point is to raise agricultural productivity. This requires the access of farmers to quality farm inputs, especially improved seeds, fertilisers and mechanisation.
‘‘To succeed, we must strongly support farmers. There is no doubt that we need to subsidize our farmers, but we must do so in transparent ways, remove rent-seeking behaviour and effectively deliver support to farmers.
‘‘The share of budget allocation to agriculture should be increased across Africa, especially for investments in critical public goods, such as research and development, infrastructure, especially roads, irrigation, and energy.
‘‘As leaders, let us decisively ensure that we meet the 10 per cent allocation of our budgets to agriculture as agreed in the Malabo Declaration of the African Heads of State and Government.
‘‘We must reduce the rate of rural to urban migration through the development of rural areas,’’ he said.
President Buhari noted that the future of agriculture in Africa would depend on getting more youth into agriculture, which means making agriculture attractive to them.
‘‘To feed Africa, we need younger male and female farmers. We must also ensure that they get access to land, finance, technologies, information, and markets.’’
The Nigerian leader, therefore, requested that the Food and Agriculture Delivery Compacts arising from the summit must address ways to improve the empowerment of the youth and women in agriculture.
‘‘We must take into consideration climate change and ensure that agricultural systems are climate-smart and climate-resilient.
‘‘We must invest heavily in irrigation to help address the increasing frequency of droughts that are leading to a decline in crop yields.
‘‘I am convinced that the targeted and bold approach of using the Food and Agriculture Delivery Compacts will allow Africa to finally break through and feed itself,” Buhari said.