The African Development Bank (AfDB), has earmarked $500 million loan for the development of four agro-industrial zones across the country.
AfDB President, Akinwunmi Adesina, made this known during a courtesy visit on the Chairman Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debt, Clifford Ordia, on Wednesday in Abuja.
Mr Adeshina, represented by his Senior Special Adviser on Industrialisation, Oyebanji Oyelaran-Oyeyinka, said discussions with the federal government started in April 2019 on the loan.
Known as Special Agro Industrial Process, he said it would be similar to the free trade zone, where thousands of direct and indirect jobs would be created for Nigerians across the country.
“We have been engaged with the federal government since April 2019. One of the standout issues in the discussion is the issue of agriculture.
“There is something called Special Agro Industrial Process. It’s similar to the free trade zone. We are in 15 different countries.
“The idea of the zone is for dedicated agribusiness. Africa is lagging behind. Farmers work hard, but they get very little. When the President of the bank was the Minister of Agriculture, he started about 14 of these zones. A lot was spent. Since he left as minister, nothing has happened since then.
“The bank has advanced $500 million to beef up these zones in the next few years. The private sector and others are pledging support. These funds will be used to provide roads and other infrastructure.
“We are tired of people laughing at us in Nigeria. This project is working in other countries. It can also work here. The AfDB is there to support Nigeria.
“Our goal is that, in the next two years, we will begin to see results. Every state will be affected. Nigeria shouldn’t be importing food. We should be at the forefront of exporting food to other parts of the world,” he said.
Responding, Mr Ordia urged AfDB to carry every stakeholder along.
“For us in the Senate, it’s a laudable programme. This programme ought to have started 10 years ago. As a Senate and as a Committee, we will support you.
“The agencies that are supposed to be the main drivers of this programme should be carried along. All the stakeholders should be carried along.
“You ought to have carried us along. You only come here when you need a loan request. Once we have this done in Nigeria, the value chain will be good,” he said.