The Nigerian government has announced significant progress in its initiative to establish special agro-industrial processing zones nationwide. Agriculture and Food Security Minister Abubakar Kyari shared this update during a briefing with State House Correspondents after the National Economic Council meeting chaired by Vice President Kashim Shettima in Abuja.

Kyari outlined that these processing zones, developed in collaboration with the African Development Bank, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the Islamic Development Bank, state governments, and private investors, are part of a specialized ministry program. The program, which commenced in 2022, initially involves seven states—Kano, Kaduna, Kwara, Ogun, Oyo, Imo, and Cross River—along with the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

The minister emphasized that these agro-industrial processing zones serve as comprehensive hubs situated in urban areas, integrating food production, aggregation, and the processing of agricultural products. This initiative is expected to attract private sector investments, adding value to agro-processing and unlocking opportunities for improved food security and job creation.

Kyari highlighted the substantial employment potential of these centers, with each having the capacity to create between 3,000 to 5,000 jobs during construction and reaching up to 5,000 jobs post-completion, in addition to supporting around 100,000 farmers.

Addressing the issue of agricultural losses due to inadequate processing and storage facilities, the minister underscored the importance of these agro-processing centers in mitigating such challenges.

The first phase, spanning five years from 2022, is already in progress, with preparations underway for the second phase. Kyari revealed that 26 states have expressed interest in participating in the second phase, set to commence next year. The African Development Bank has pledged $1 billion in support for the implementation of this upcoming phase.

Kyari also disclosed that the National Economic Council has approved the expedited submission of Special Agro Processing Zone documents to funders by the Ministry of Finance. Additionally, the council granted waivers for the payment of performance allowances to project staff by funders, as requested by the project executing agency, to mitigate implementation risks. 

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