Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), says there is no reason for anyone to go hungry in Nigeria.
He said Nigeria has all it takes to achieve food sufficiency.
The AfDB President said this at the launch of the Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones programme in Abuja on Monday.
Below is the speech in full.
Speech Delivered by
Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina
President, African Development Bank Group
Official Launch of the Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones in Nigeria
October 24, 2022. Abuja, Nigeria.
Your Excellency Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, represented by His Excellency Professor Yemi Osinbajo, Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Your Excellencies, Executive Governors,
Honourable Minister of Finance,
Honourable Minister of agriculture and rural development.
Ambassadors and Heads of International organizations.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen.
I wish to congratulate the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on the launch of the Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones (SAPZs) today.
I speak to you today wearing three hats.
As President of the African Development Bank.
As a former Minister of Agriculture of Nigeria.
As a World Food Prize Winner, widely known as the Nobel Prize for Agriculture.
My heart is with Nigeria as it goes through a very serious flood that is devastating the country.
I know this very well.
I had to deal with the worst floods in Nigeria when I was Minister of Agriculture.
We responded very fast, launched the nation’s first dry season farming program, and produced so much food in the dry season.
We turned the flood into a new opportunity and Nigeria avoided a food crisis.
Floods may wash away some land and harvests, but we must not let the hopes of farmers be washed away.
Agriculture is critical for the survival of any nation.
The most important role of any nation is to feed its people.
Food is a fundamental human right.
Africa faces huge challenges in meeting its food needs, with 283 million people that go hungry annually.
Yet Africa has massive agricultural potential.
With 65% of the uncultivated arable land left to feed over 9 billion people in the world by 2050 being in Africa, what Africa does with agriculture will determine the future of food in the world.
The story is no different in Nigeria, despite positive efforts that have been made to improve the agricultural sector.
Food is now beyond the reach of many.
According to the Global Hunger Index (2022), released just a week ago, Nigeria ranks 103rd among 121 countries facing hunger crisis in the world.
Hunger in Nigeria cannot be justified.
Nigeria has the land, with 34 million hectares of arable land with rich and diverse agroecology.
It has the water. It has the labor.
It has great sunshine.
Nigeria must achieve zero hunger.
There is no reason for anyone to go hungry in Nigeria.
As the United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres said recently “if we do not feed people, we feed conflict.”
To help turn this situation around for African countries, I prioritized agriculture when I was first elected President of the African Development Bank in 2015.
Since then, the African Development Bank has committed $25 billion to investments in agriculture.
In the past six years, the African Development Bank’s financing for agriculture has provided over 76 million farmers with improved agricultural technologies for food security.
Through its Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT), the African Development Bank has also provided 12 million farmers with improved climate smart agricultural technologies within three years.
In Ethiopia, TAAT provided heat tolerant wheat varieties to farmers.
The cultivated area under the heat tolerant wheat varieties expanded from 5,000 in 2018 to 645,000 hectares in 2022.
This year, Ethiopia became self sufficient in wheat in just three years.
Next year, Ethiopia will become a net exporter of wheat to Kenya and Djibouti.
The Bank’s support to Sudan has also helped it to reduce its wheat imports by 50% within two years.
The African Development Bank is also supporting Nigeria, through TAAT, to produce more wheat, rice and maize.
This support will allow Nigeria to cultivate by next year 900,000 hectares of rice, 250,000 hectares of wheat and 107,000 hectares of maize.
If Ethiopia can do it, Nigeria can do it!
If Sudan can do it, Nigeria can do it!
However, to achieve these results, Nigeria must decisively tackle insecurity challenges that prevent farmers from going to their farms.
The private sector cannot invest when there is insecurity.
Food security needs national security.
The African Development Bank is strongly supporting Nigeria.
We have always done so.
When Nigeria faced a massive recession in 2016 and needed support and no financial institution in the world was there to provide support, the African Development Bank came to Nigeria’s rescue, with an approval of up to $1 billion in budget support.
We are doing a lot for Nigeria.
The African Development Bank’s portfolio in Nigeria, at $4.6 billion, shows the high priority that we accord to Nigeria, across several sectors.
To boost food production in Nigeria, the African Development Bank is already investing $522 million, with additional co-financing of $420 million from partners.
To help Africa prevent a food crisis from the Russian war in Ukraine, the African Development Bank launched a $1.5 billion African Emergency Food Production Facility, which will support 20 million farmers to access climate resilient agricultural technologies and produce 38 million metric tons of food valued at $12 billion.
The African Emergency Food Production Facility provided $134 million to Nigeria, one of the highest levels of support across African countries.
I would like to thank the Japanese International Development Agency (JICA) for co-financing this with an additional $110 million.
That means we collectively made available $244 million for emergency food production in Nigeria.
We must act faster, to avert a food crisis in Nigeria.
It is worrying that these emergency funds approved since July 2022, for emergency food production, have yet to be signed for implementation by Nigeria.
Yet the seasons wait for no one, while the hungry await timely help.
There is need for greater action, responsiveness, and delivery.
To fully unlock the potential of Nigeria’s agriculture, more needs to be done to promote and support the agribusiness sector.
Transforming agriculture must start with recognizing that agriculture is a business, a wealth creating sector, not just a way of life.
Unlocking wealth in agriculture requires the provision of appropriate technologies to boost productivity, development of agricultural value chains, financial structure to support agricultural value chains, and investments in infrastructure to unlock investments by food and agribusinesses.
That is why the African Development Bank has launched the development of Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones (SAPZs).
The SAZPs are new economic zones, located in rural areas, to be fully supported by infrastructure (power, water, roads, digital infrastructure, and logistics) that will allow food and agribusiness companies to locate within such zones.
This will put them close to farmers in production catchment areas, provide market offtakes for farmers, support processing and value addition, reduce food losses, and allow the emergence of highly competitive food and agricultural value chains.
The development of the SAPZs is one that I had envisioned when I was the Minister of agriculture in Nigeria.
That’s because I knew that Nigeria needed to diversify its economy by turning agriculture into a wealth creating sector with highly competitive agricultural value chains.
Seven years after my being Minister of Agriculture of Nigeria, the dream to establish these SAPZs continued.
I continued to push for the establishment of the SAPZs when I was elected President of the African Development Bank in 2015.
Today, the African Development Bank is investing over $1 billion in SAPZs in 18 African countries.
The SAPZs will help to transform the food and agriculture sector.
They will attract private agribusinesses to locate in infrastructure-enabled rural areas.
They will create massive amounts of jobs across agricultural value chains.
They will reduce rural to urban migration, expand the fiscal space, and enhance the emergence of competitive agricultural value chains.
Most importantly, the SAPZs will help to transform rural economies of Nigeria from zones of economic misery to zones of economic prosperity, boosting wealth and livelihoods.
Seven years was a long wait, but today I am delighted that the Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones (SAPZs) have finally become a reality in Nigeria.
The African Development Bank is providing $210 million for the development of the SAPZs in Nigeria.
We are delighted with our partnership with the Islamic Development Bank which is co-financing with $150 million, and with the International Fund for Agricultural Development which is co-financing with $160 million.
The SAPZ program in Nigeria is the largest in Africa.
The commitment of the Minister of Agriculture is strong.
The commitment by the Minister of Finance is strong.
The commitment by the State Governors is very strong.
The SAPZs in Nigeria are being developed closely with the State Governments.
I was pleased to have hosted several State governors at the African Development Bank Headquarters in Abidjan, including from Ogun State, Kaduna State, Imo State, Oyo State, to discuss modalities of implementation.
I am delighted that already 19 additional state governments have indicated interests to also establish special agro-industrial processing zones.
The African Development Bank will work with all development partners to scale up the SAPZs across Nigeria.
Several private sector firms, domestic and foreign, have already expressed keen interests in locating in these zones.
The States will require competent and experienced private sector developers, facility managers and operators to complete necessary infrastructure and logistics within their respective special agro-industrial processing zones.
The involvement of the National Sovereign Investment Authority is designed to boost private sector and investor confidence in what will be a multi-billion-dollar sector in the years ahead.
The Bank of Industry is committed to financing companies investing in the zones, including small and medium sized enterprises, commercial farmers, aggregators, input suppliers, primary processors, large processors and agribusinesses.
Together with our partners, we will work alongside the States and the Federal Government to help attract finance, support speedy implementation, and ensure that Nigeria unlocks its agricultural potential.
The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.
The launch today of the Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones (SAPZs) marks the beginning of a long journey of transformation.
The SAPZs will help feed Nigeria.
The SAPZs will help transform Nigeria’s rural economies.
The SAPZs will help to expand fiscal space.
The SAPZs will fully unlock Nigeria’s agricultural potential.
The SAPZs will create millions of jobs.
Let us travel this journey together.
Nigerians deserve the results:
Lower food prices.
Food security, and Wealth for rural areas.
Thank you very much.