About 13, 000 farmers and herders are to benefit from the Special Agro Processing Zone (SAPZ) being spearheaded by the federal government across the country.
This was disclosed in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital when the team visited Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq at the Government House, Ilorin.
The team comprised top officials from African Development Bank (AfDB), Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, (FMFB&NP), International Fund for African Development (IFAD) and the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA).
AbdulRazaq said his administration would continue to initiate policies and programmes that would attract investors and turn around the economic fortunes of the state.
AbdulRazaq assured the federal government’s joint mission team on Special Agro Processing Zone (SAPZ) of smooth take-off of the project in the state.
He said his administration keyed into the programme to improve the economic fortunes of the state by exploring its geographic location, adding that the conflict in some parts of the country had led to the influx of herdsmen into the state.
AbdulRazaq described Kwara as one of the safest states in the country with minimal records of insecurity due to the strong synergy between traditional rulers and security agencies.
“The issues of armed robbery, kidnapping among others, are very low because of proper synergy between traditional rulers and security agencies. Even, herdsmen-farmers’ conflict, we try to reduce it to the barest minimum through dialogue,” AbdulRazaq said.
He appreciated the team for the visit which he said would encourage the government to redouble its efforts in putting infrastructural development in place to ensure the realization of the project.
AbdulRazaq attributed the delay in the take-off of the project to COVID-19 pandemic which has affected environmental impact assessment.
His administration, he said, had initiated partnership with Lagos state on how to improve dairy and rice production, not only to boost food production but also improve the state Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).
“Once again we are excited that you are here and whatever we need to do will be done properly with the right resources and getting the right intellectual input. I thank you very much and hope to see you back very soon when the programme fully kicks off”, AbdulRazaq said.
The team was in the state on pre-appraisal of Kwara State Special Agro Processing Zone with a view to ascertaining the readiness of the state for the project.
Earlier, the team leader, Dr. Chuma Ezedinma of AfDB, had told the governor that the programme would be implemented in all the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), adding that Kwara is one of the six states selected for the pilot scheme of the project.
The team solicited the support and cooperation of the state to ensure that the project would not be delayed anymore.
The technical assistant to the governor on agriculture, Mr. Abdulquawiy Olododo, said that the team was in the state to ascertain the level of preparedness of the state for Special Agro Processing Zone Project.
He explained that the team had started its activities with stakeholders’ engagement and visitation to existing infrastructure that could be leveraged upon for the commencement of the project, pointing out that over 13,000 smallholders’ farmers, herders, rural community and participants in the agricultural value chain are the main target of the project.