The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on Wednesday applauded the provision of $538.05m by the African Development Bank, the Islamic Development Bank, and the International Fund for Agricultural Development.
According to The PUNCH, the funds were donated for the first phase of the Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones for Nigeria programme.
This came after he pushed his counterparts to devote at least 10% of their national budgets to agriculture, as promised in the Malabo Declaration of African Heads of State and Government.
Buhari said in his goodwill message to the Feed Africa Summit of Heads of State and Government in Dakar, said,‘I am pleased with the partnership approach used for Nigeria by the multilateral financing institutions, with the African Development Bank providing $210m, the Islamic Development Bank and the International Fund for Agricultural Development providing $310m, and the Government of Nigeria providing $18.05m.
This was disclosed by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, in a statement he signed on Wednesday titled ‘How Africa can feed itself, produce surplus for export, by President Buhari.
The Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones for Nigeria, which are currently in the first phase, would cover seven States in the Federation, according to Buhari, who praised the African Development Bank’s efforts to develop SAPZ.
‘‘These very innovative public-private partnership models will help us to transform the agriculture sector much faster and use it to generate wealth.
‘‘They will also allow our countries to develop integrated infrastructure around our agricultural processes and add value to the production of crops, livestock, and fisheries.’’
The structural restructuring of the agriculture industry, according to him, would not be possible without the SAPZs.
In order to ensure that the zones receive special consideration, he urged his counterparts to do so as member states create their Food and Agriculture Delivery Compacts.
Buhari also mentioned how the crisis between Russia and Ukraine and rising global inflation had raised food costs, particularly for basic necessities like wheat and maize.
He listed the steps African leaders must take to alter the situation.
‘‘We must ensure that we feed ourselves today, tomorrow, and well into the future. The starting point is to raise agricultural productivity. This requires the access of farmers to quality farm inputs, especially improved seeds, and fertilizers and mechanization.
‘‘To succeed, we must strongly support farmers. There is no doubt that we need to subsidize our farmers, but we must do so in ways that are transparent, remove rent seeking behavior and effectively deliver support to farmers.
‘‘The share of budget allocation to agriculture should be increased across Africa, especially for investments in critical public goods, such as research and development, infrastructure, especially roads, irrigation, and energy.
‘‘As leaders, let us decisively ensure that we meet the 10 per cent allocation of our budgets to agriculture as agreed in the Malabo Declaration of the African Heads of State and Government. We must reduce the rate of rural to urban migration through the development of rural areas,’’ Buhari advised.
The President added that encouraging more young people to enter agriculture and making it appealing to them would be essential to the future of agriculture in Africa.
According to him, this entails facilitating simple access to markets, technologies, financing, land, and other resources.
In order to improve the empowerment of young people and women in agriculture, he recommended that the Food and Agriculture Delivery Compacts that result from the Summit address this issue.
Buhari also emphasized the need for specific funding windows from the central banks in his plea for affordable financing to boost smallholder and commercial farmers.
He said ‘‘Access to affordable finance is critical for the success of efforts to support smallholder farmers and commercial farmers. Commercial banks do not lend much to agriculture due to the perception of high risks.
‘‘Generally, less than 3 per cent of total financing by commercial banks in Africa go into agriculture.
“We must therefore reduce the risks of lending faced by commercial banks. But we must go beyond commercial lending. Where possible and countries can afford to, the central banks can also dedicate significant resources to complement lending from commercial banks.”