- Explore increase food production, nutrition security
- To leverage livestock with its 10m heads of cattle
Seven newly elected governors from the northwest geopolitical zone of Nigeria have approached the African Development Bank (AfDB) in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, seeking to explore opportunities for collaboration and investment in the agriculture plans of their governments.
Akinwumi Adesina, president of AfDB, met the delegation, led by Governor Dikko Umar Radda of Katsina State, and including Governors Nasiru Idris of Kebbi State; Umar Namadi of Jigawa; Dauda Lawal of Zamfara State; and deputy governors Aminu Abdussalam from Kano; Hadiza Sabuwa Balarabe representing Kaduna, and Idris Mohammed Gobir of Sokoto.
The North West zone of Nigeria, which includes the states represented in the delegation, is home to approximately 60 million people, or 28 percent of the country’s population. It also has the highest concentration of livestock in the country, with approximately 10 million heads of cattle, which is almost half of the country’s total cattle population. Despite its agricultural potential, the region faces significant challenges, including inadequate infrastructure, poor market integration, limited extension services, and food insecurity. The delegation was eager to partner with the African Development Bank to address these challenges and improve the lives of the people of the North West.
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During the meeting in Abidjan, the focus was on increasing food production and nutrition security, as well as identifying innovative ways to leverage the region’s abundant agricultural resources.
The African Development Bank’s Special Agro-industrial Processing Zones (SAPZs) programme was highlighted as a potential tool for harnessing the region’s agricultural potential.
In addition to agricultural development, the delegation expressed interest in the AfDB’s renewable energy initiatives, including the $20 billion Desert-to-Power initiative. This initiative aims to provide 10,000 megawatts of solar energy to nearly 250 million people in the Sahel region, including many in the North West zone of Nigeria. The delegation was eager to explore how the initiative could help to improve access to energy and drive economic growth in the region.
In response to the delegation’s interest in the SAPZs programme, Adesina emphasised the bank’s commitment to the initiative and announced that $1 billion in financing is available to expand the programme in Nigeria. He urged the governors to work together to identify 25 agricultural hubs across the country that could host the schemes, and he stressed the importance of moving forward with this process as quickly as possible.
Adesina stated that the African Development Bank is working closely with the Federal Government of Nigeria to address the challenges of high food and energy prices. He explained that the bank is supporting the government’s efforts to increase food production and reduce reliance on imported food, and that it is also working to increase access to energy and improve the affordability of energy for consumers.
On the relevance of the SAPZs programme, he said,“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, reduce waste and post-harvest losses, boost incomes, increase profits, and plough money back into your rural economies.”
Adesina drew attention to the North West zone’s vast livestock resources, particularly cattle, and emphasised the region’s potential for meat processing. He proposed the establishment of beef processing zones in the region, emphasising the need for a thorough discussion on this issue. He also commended the regional approach of the North West governors, and expressed his commitment to supporting the development of a regional strategy for the region.
Governor Radda’s remarks highlighted the importance of the bank’s work in Nigeria and the value of its leadership under Adesina. He expressed appreciation for the bank’s support for agriculture and power projects in the North West zone, and the role these projects will play in driving development and improving livelihoods.
“We have commonalities in people, approaches, culture, tradition, topography, rainfall and climate,” he added.
According to Governor Radda, one of the key challenges facing the North West zone is the lack of irrigation infrastructure, which has led to low yields, post-harvest losses, youth unemployment, and security issues.
On his part, Umar Namadi of Jigawa State said his administration is prioritising strategic partnerships that advance rural infrastructure, farm mechanisation and climate-smart agriculture.