#FNS2020: “Fixing Our Railway Network Will Reduce Agric Cost by 70%,’ Nanono Says, Flags Off SAPZ

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Sabo Nanono, has formally flagged off the Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones (SAPZ) Project.

Nanono alongside the Senior Country Director (Acting), Nigeria, African Development Bank (AfBB), Lamin Barrow, formally unveiled the Project on Tuesday at the Feed Nigeria Summit 2020 held at the Ladi Kwali Conference Centre, Sheraton Hotel and Towers, Abuja.

The Feed Nigeria Summit, hosted annually by AgroNigeria, is famed as Nigeria’s foremost agricultural sector convocation aimed at catalyzing transformational progress for the country’s agriculture.

This year’s edition of the Summit, which was themed: Agribusiness: Leading Nigeria’s Recovery, was held on Tuesday and Wednesday, December 1st and 2nd, 2020.

SAPZ is an integrated development initiative designed to concentrate agro-processing activities within areas of high agricultural potential to boost productivity, integrate production, processing and marketing of selected commodities.

Already being implemented in several other African countries, the SAPZ Programme is the Federal Government of Nigeria’s collaborative project with the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) is the key implementor, backed by other critical partners.

While the AfDB is supporting the programme with $500m, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has pledged a $200m support fund.

“Fixing Our Railway Network Will Reduce Agric Cost by 70%,’

Nanono also delivered the Host Minister’s Speech at the Summit under the title: Agro-Industrialisation: Nigeria’s Key to Robust Job and Wealth Creation.

The Minister pointed out that fixing Nigeria’s railway network would help to reduce the cost of agricultural production by 70%.

This step would also aid the movement of food from areas of surplus to those of deficit, he said.

Nanono, however, noted that the Federal Government has been investing lots of money in railway construction and expressed optimism in the efforts.

Meanwhile, the Agric Minister listed low levels of mechanisation, poor railway network, lack of sufficient farmer education, improper linkage of farmers to prospective investors and financing of agriculture among top constraints hindering the sector.

He decried the lack of linkage between the agricultural sector and the industrial sector as missing vertical and horizontal linkages with the private sector.

He, however, observed that the country had all it needs to develop the sector, adding that political will, focus, organisation and reduction in the politicisation of agriculture are what is needed.

Nanono said, “The kind of agriculture we do now has to give way. Mechanisation is the answer. Basic infrastructure is another area. If we can fix the railway system in Nigeria, the cost of agricultural production will reduce by at least 70%.

“It will also help us move surplus food to deficit areas. This way, we can easily fight hunger. We have to resolve these issues.

“The other challenge we face is education. Seventy per cent of our farming activities is more about knowledge. Knowledge in agriculture is absolutely necessary. This is why my administration has been keen on training 75,000 extension workers.”

“We have to change our attitude. Why did the cocoa industry fall before the eyes of the South West? We are not prepared to do the things that will take us back to the glory of the 1980s. It is not a question of where and when but now and everywhere.”

Nanono thanked the African Development Bank for contributing to the financing and development of the country’s agricultural sector.

He added, “The other challenge is the financing of agriculture. This is where the AfDB comes in. We are grateful for what they are doing, but what are Nigerian financial institutions doing?

“Are we going to shut down our eyes? I can tell you, we have all the answers to develop the agricultural sector in Nigeria. What remains is the political will, to get focused and organised and to reduce politics in agriculture.”


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