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Government woos investors to agric processing zones

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•As stakeholders seek more participation from informal sector
The Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Mustapha Shehuri, has said the Ministry in collaboration with the African Development Bank (AfDB), would promote and develop Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones (SAPZS), in Nigeria.
  
He said this will enable both local and foreign partners to advance the level of trade and investments in the agricultural sector as a veritable strategy to diversify the economy.
  
Shehuri disclosed this yesterday,at the Ecobank Agribusiness Summit, themed: “Unlocking productivity and investment opportunities across Nigeria’s agribusiness value chain,” in Lagos.

He stressed the need for viable synergy and collaboration of all the relevant stakeholders, including the financial sector as well as government at all levels and development partners.
  


He said within the overall set of policy principles, the Federal Government is concentrating on providing an enabling environment and a level playground for stakeholders at all levels to enhance investment and capital flow into the Agriculture sector.
   
He emphasised that Nigeria’s potential and prospects make the sector a pivot for economic stabilisation, diversification and growth, and a major contributor to the national Gross Domestic Product contribution (GDP) of about 27 per cent and the biggest in job creation in the non-oil sectors.
 
Shehuri pointed out that “it is gladdening that this forum has brought together smallholder farmers, input dealers, agro-processors, development finance agencies, policymakers and the captains of the industry under one roof to discuss the problems and challenges facing the agricultural sector with a view to finding solutions and way forward.”
 
     
Earlier in his welcome address, the Chief Executive Officer, Ecobank Nigeria, Patrick Akinwuntan, said the bank recently signed a pact with the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), with a pledge to invest N70billion in agriculture within the next three years. This holds an initial take-off tranche of N15billion dedicated funding in association with credible financing partners and instruments.”
 
Akinwuntan pointed out that agriculture is pivotal to the success and development of a nation, “We are therefore committed to working with our notable partners to open up the vast opportunities that abound in the agriculture sector.”

He added: “We will leverage on the successful templates generated in the commodities and agribusiness sectors in the economies that we have supported across the continent, so we can replicate the same in Nigeria.”


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