Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Governors of the 36 states of the Federation and African Development Bank (AFDB), have set the target of taking over 50 million people out of poverty in Nigeria, through investment in Agriculture.
The AFDB project is a $1 billion investment in the over the next three years.
This was disclosed at a meeting between top AFDB officials and the governors at a meeting in Abuja meant to discuss the establishment of Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones in the country.
The meeting which was at the instance of the officials of the AFDB led by Prof Oyebanji Oyeyinka, Senior Special Adviser to the president of the AFDB, was chaired by the Vice Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum, Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State.
The aim of the meeting was to bring together the farming and the processing community in the country to add value to the produce which hitherto have been at great cost.
Oyeyinka explained that the result of the $1 billion investment is expected to have a quick impact and results which Nigeria Incentive-based Risk Sharing System For Agriculture Lending (NIRSAL), Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC) and several other Nigerian investment outfits are already gearing to key in.
The governors at the meeting pointed out the potentials areas that can be tapped to able investors easily position themselves to take advantage of the opportunities available in those areas.
The governors say such projects must be encouraged to take firm root in the country if that number of people are to removed from poverty, unemployment, and hunger.
Tambuwal assured that governors will establish a full value chain arrangement at the subnational level, adding that all states of the federation are on board to give impetus to those who desire for greater productivity and employment among the country’s youths.
Kebbi Governor, Atiku Bagudu on his part advocated for a situation where payment of loans can be done with produce to lighten the credit risk on the venture.
According to him, “States are keen on taking advantage of what you have to offer but we must be sensitive to the burden that this brings and devise ways of easing the burden on the farmer because the more you generate growth the more credit risk drops.”
Payment with produce could lighten the burden on the farmer and the country in general, he said, adding that it is sensible to seek partnerships that can last, while making reference to the US-China situation where the partnership between the two countries is gradually becoming sour.
On his part, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo state requested that the project takes cognizance of situations where land for the Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones (SAPZ) between two states can be contiguous and allow such to be utilized seamlessly.
He alo talked about the security of the investor and added that “We are ready to ensure that all investors in our states are secure.”
Several governors and Deputy Governors were in attendance.