Seven newly elected Nigerian Governors visited the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group President, Akinwumi Adesina, in Abidjan to strengthen cooperation and unlock the country’s vast agricultural potential.
A statement issued by the Bank on Saturday, said the delegation was led by Katsina State Governor Dikko Radda.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that governors Nasiru Idris of Kebbi State, Alhaji Umar Namadi of Jigawa, and Dr Dauda Lawal of Zamfara were among the delegation .
Deputy governors Aminu Abdussalam from Kano, Dr Hadiza Balarabe representing Kaduna, and Idris Gobir of Sokoto was also part of the delegation.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that with an estimated 60 million people, which is 28 per cent of the country’s population, North West Nigeria is home to 10 million of the country’s 22 million heads of cattle.
Discussions in Abidjan focused on boosting food production, nutrition, and security as well as innovative ways to unleash the zone’s rich agricultural potential.
It also aimed to fast-track the implementation of Special Agro-industrial Processing Zones (SAPZs) and leverage AfDB’s renewable energy programmes.
Adesina applauded the regional approach of the North West Governors while assuring them that the Bank would support the development of a regional strategy.
The AfDB president said the Bank and its partners targeted one billion dollars in financing to expand the SAPZ programme in Nigeria to support up to 25 of the country’s 36 states.
Adesina urged the governors to collaboratively and promptly select agricultural hubs to host the schemes.
According to the AfDB boss, the bank is working with the Federal Government of Nigeria to tackle high food and energy prices.
“These zones will benefit local farmers and create jobs throughout the value chains. They will provide unprecedented opportunities to transform commodities into high-value products.
“They will reduce waste and post-harvest losses, boost incomes, increase profits, and plough money back into your rural economies,” he said.
Noting the zone’s endowments in livestock, particularly cattle, Adesina underscored the area’s potential for meat processing.
“I would like us to have a substantive conversation about establishing beef processing zones in the North West zone.
“The Bank has financed several projects in the North West zone, including the 85 million dollars Zaria Water Supply and Sanitation Project, which provides water to 650,000 people and sanitation services to 350,000.
“Two states from the zone, Kano and Kaduna, are part of Phase One of the SAPZ programme.
“The National Agriculture Growth Scheme (Agro-Pocket or NAGS) received 134 million dollars in budget support funding under the Bank Group’s Africa Emergency Food Production Facility.
According to Adesina, the scheme targets increased wheat and rice production during the 2023 dry season and through the 2024 wet season in five states.
He said the scheme will help reduce some of the country’s current three billion dollars expenditure on wheat imports.