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FG plans to establish 142 agro-processing centers

The Nigerian government said it has set up plans to establish 142 agro-processing centers across the country, with one center in each senatorial district of the six geo-political zones.

The government said the development will help revolutionize the agricultural sector in Nigeria.

The Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, alongside the Agriculture and Rural Development Minister, Sab Nanono, said this in Abuja on June 3 while briefing journalists on the implementation of the program titled “The Green Imperative” program, a Nigeria-Brazil bilateral agriculture development program.

An Agro-Processing Center is a manufacturing place where all the facilities required for pre-treatment, processing, drying, packaging, storage and marketing (optional) are available in a successive manner for the raw materials and intermediate products derived from the agricultural sector.

The Green Imperative Program, which was launched by the vice president, Yemi Osinbajo, in January 2019, emanated from the More Food International Program of the Brazilian government, with the aim to strengthen the productive capacity of smallholder farmers through provision of tractors.

As reported by the Minister of Information, the programme, worth US$1.2 billion, is expected to be implemented over a period of 5-10 years with funding coming in from different international groups.

“The programme, worth US$1.2 billion, is to be implemented over a period of 5- 10 years with funding from the Development Bank of Brazil (BNDES) and Deutsche Bank with insurance provided by Brazillian Guarantees and Fund Managements Agency (ABGF) and the Islamic Corporation for Insurance of Export Credit (ICIEC) of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) and coordinated by Getulio Vargas Foundation (FGV),” the minister said.

The agricultural sector plays a strategic role in the process of economic development of a country, serving as the main source of food, income and employment to their rural populations. But the Nigerian government prefers crude oil to be the nation’s major economic driving force since its discovery in the early 1950s.

Recently, the government lost so much in the oil sector due to the coronavirus pandemic that has affected the whole world, creating more concerns for economic diversification.

Farmers, had, in the past, suffered post-harvest loss due to inadequate agro-processing centers in the country, impacting negative effects on the farm produce.

Early this year, the African Development Bank (AFDB), in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) promised to spend $300,000 million dollars to develop Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zone (SAPZS) across the country.

This is aimed at boosting food security, reducing food imports and enabling food producers, processors and distributors to operate within one vicinity.

With the federal government’s plan of establishing agro-processing centers across the country, Nigeria will be able to address the issues of post-harvest loss that has been a major challenge to many farmers. The project can add up with SAPZs program from AFDB to revolutionize the agricultural sector in Nigeria.

Apart from the establishment of agro-processing centers, the information minister said “The Green Imperative” program will help to create more jobs alongside a sustainable supply chain of raw materials.

“The program will create about 5 million jobs and inject over US$10 billion into the economy within 10 years and impact over 35 million persons nutritionally and economically,” the minister said.

“It will create a sustainable supply chain of agricultural raw materials for our large manufacturing companies to source locally, thereby saving billions of US dollars in food-related Forex, and train about 100,000 extension workers within three years,” he added.