Governor AbdulRazaq in the Race to Sparkle Economic Opportunities Through KW-SAPZ Programme

 

 


“In the next two years when our Agro-Processing Zones are launched, you will see that Kwara will be the leading state in dairy production and milk production as well” 

Above were His Excellency’s re-assuring words when he was responding to a reporter’s questions in Cairo-Egypt some months ago during the “Intra-African Trade Fares 2023” to reiterate his government’s resolve to encouraging agricultural buoyancy that will capacitate Kwara to generate multiple jobs for youths, thereby creating wealth opportunities for the populace. 

The government of Mallam AbdulRahman AbdulRazq is full of re-sounding actualisations and expectations for the people.The administration is famous for policies that foreground the people’s welfare and overall development, this is but a task to project and actualise the El Dorado reality on the State of Harmony. Particularly, the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum has never been ambiguous in igniting economic prospects to attract investments to the state, believing that such will expand social economic development to rural areas. For example, his ambition to embrace the Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones (SAPZ) Programme is a striking justification of His Excellency’s exceptional progressive vision and deep loyalty to lifting Kwara from subsistence farming to high tech commercialized agriculture.

Nigeria is one of the countries with myriad natural endowments, one of which is a large expanse of arable and fertile land. But the precious gift has not been utilised satisfactorily to shut the door of impoverishment. Experts are of the opinion that socio-economic challenges excruciating Africans (Nigeria especially) are associated with the problem of leadership myopia, because it is believed that it takes a nation to have leaders who are visionary and ready to deploy their charisma and progressive doggedness before it can rise above the height of poverty and be intrepid enough to disrate the weight of hunger. No matter how rich/blessed, in terms of natural endowment, a nation/state is, she will still be battling with economic aridity. Governor AbdulRazaq is not lagging behind in this consciousness. He is not oblivious that development is not by accident, but it is by design.

It is no news to any one that Kwara is blessed with rich arable land that will yield bumper harvests.But it is one thing, on one hand, to have rich land, on the other hand, it is another issue (big and crucial one!) to be blessed with resources and fail to make good proceeds out of the natural facilities. This implies that where nature (in her service to humanity) stops, man has to invest his efforts and drive the grace to an end for great benefits for mankind. This is a fissure between nature and nurture, or between fatalism and social reality.This is a gap this administration is filling with agricultural creativity and modernisation.  

Execution of the SAPZ Programme in Kwara is an affirmation of His Excellency’s foresight to agree with Ade Adefeko’s (2021) contention that, “Africa remains a continent of interests, interesting peoples and natural endowments of huge commercial value which if well-harnessed and the revenue accruing from such judiciously put into use for the benefit of the people, the continent will be one of the very best among the comity of continents of the world.” It is clear that the Kwara State Governor truly believes that “our endowment must be deployed for our prosperity”.

Initiated to Nigeria by the President, African Development Bank (AfDB) and former Nigeria’s Minister for Agriculture, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, SAPZ is to catalyse agricultural development through industrialisation. By elaborate interpretation, it was secured by the Federal Government of Nigeria from the African Development Bank (AfDB), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and Islamic Development Bank (IsDB). It is a five-year AfDB/IFAD/IsDB-assisted programme in partnership with State Governments. Kwara is one of the Seven (7) participating states (Imo, Kaduna, Cross River, Kano, Kwara, Oyo and Ogun) and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in the first phase. Out of these, Kwara, Kano and FCT SAPZ will be financed with the fund secured from the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB). This is to place agriculture on a sound footing, turning food insecurity to the annals of history as multiple jobs will be created for the teeming youths of the State.

Studded with the major objectives to create wealth paths, reduce poverty, attract investors and reduce post harvest losses, encourage infrastructural facilities etc., the implementation of the SAPZ Programme is tied to four components, namely; (i) the Development of Enabling Infrastructure and Management of Agro-Industrial Zones in Nigeria; (ii) Agricultural Productivity and Production; Policy and Institutional Capacity Development Support; and Project Coordination and Management. All these components are to be considered as the blueprints for implementation especially when it comes to adherence to the SAPZ PDO (Project Development Objectives) to the letter to ensure that the expected vision of the Governor in bringing this initiative to Kwara is pursued and achieved.   

The KW-SAPZ Programme has a bias for livestock production as its PVC (Priority Value Chain). This can be substantiated by the submission of Governor AbdulRazaq in the opening paragraph above. He called his listeners’ attention to the area of the state’s concentration in the programme when he stated – let me recall his exact words: "In the next two years when our Agro-Processing Zones are launched, you will see that Kwara will be the leading state in dairy production and milk production as well." Dairy and milk production is peculiar to livestock production. With this estimation, One Agro-Industrial Hub (AIH) will be built at Malete, Moro LGA in Kwara State, and Four Agricultural Transformation Centres (ATCs) will soon evolve at Afon Milk Collection Centre, Asa LGA; Gidan Magajiya Grazing Reserve, Baruteen LGA; Kinikini Grazing Reserve, Kaiama LGA; and Olodan Grazing Reserve, Ifelodun LGA; all in the State. Being “centres of excellence” integrating production, aggregation and end markets, the Agro-edifice/structure will be supported with the facilities such as production cluster, aggregation centre, production drivers, irrigation, mechanisation and extension services, so that effective production and productivity, and smooth networking process will take place.   

This is an initiative with the structure of infrastructure development. The matter of the agro-business is taking this remarkable shape in the state because the Governor understands the fact that agricultural effectiveness is dependent on infrastructural efficacy. Infrastructural development is seen as a “construction and improvement of foundational services with a goal of sparkling economic growth and improvement in the quality of life.” The infrastructural support will, therefore, facilitate trade, attract investment into the Agro-Industrial Processing Zone (AIH).

Some of the infrastructural features expected to be built (not only for aesthetic purposes) to add value to the AIH and ATCs within the state include construction of feeder roads, power infrastructure, drainages, water treatment plant, breeding centre etc. It is believed that such structures will definitely facilitate patronage to the Agro-business within the State.The ATCs (Agricultural Transformation Centres) will be armed with production and aggregation centres. 

The infrastructural element of the agro-industrialisation will beget economic infrastructure with energy, network of roads, sewage system etc. It will also give room to social infrastructure comprising clinics (where cows will be attended to medically), business support, ITC centres, procurement centre etc. There will also be consideration for waste management; this is to keep the environment clean and healthy.     

It shows that Governor AbdulRazaq is adequately relating with the other actors of development in other states, he also noted further, in the above interview that arrangements are underway to bring "Arise Investment", a leading investment company to the State. Arise Investment, according to His Excellency, is expected to come and replicate what it has done in Ogun State. It will also interest Kwarans to hear that the Governor is linking up with the Lagos State Government, because Lagos is a strong figure in the food agro-processing zone. So, Kwara is trying to do something similar in dairies and meat with Lagos State. This is hoped to unfold in Kwara, according to the Governor in the interview, in the next two years, and it will be a big industrial park to energise and excite economic buoyancy in the state.  

One will marvel at the might and the attendant prospect of the project. It is an agro-based spatial development initiative which is designed to concentrate on agro-processing activities within areas with high agricultural potentials. It is to boost productivity and integrated production, processing and marketing of agricultural commodities. Kwara’s Agro-Industrial Hub, when launched, will enable agricultural producers, processors, aggregators and distributors, reduce transaction costs and share business development services for increased productivity and competitiveness. Governor AbdulRazaq’s agro-Industrial Hub is a sort of cluster that will promote interdependence.

That an agro-industrial hub is going to be established in Kwara is thoughtful of the Governor. Such an initiative is justified by the factor of the degree of agricultural production going on in the state. His Excellency knows his state. He knows for sure that his State is an area of high agricultural production. This can be inferred when he said “We need to showcase what we have”. With the State, endowed with a vast expanse of arable land suitable for industrial agriculture, the foresight of His Excellency is commendable, bearing in mind that a large number of the people in the State are committed to farming will give the project a soft landing.  

While describing the nature and the merits of the project to Kwarans, the State Project Coordinator, Kwara SAPZ Project, Engr. Dr. Busari Toyin Isiaka, stated that the Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones (SAPZ) initiative in Kwara State has the potential to bring about several benefits and prospect for the people of Kwara State. He added that myriad opportunities await the people. He then adumbrated the many advantages that can accrue from the project. One of these, according to him, is job creation (creation of employment opportunities for the people because agro-processing industries are labour-intensive, and the development of SAPZ is expected to generate a significant number of jobs in the state.). 

He mentioned economic growth as another point of opportunity that will open for the people when the Agro-facilities are ready. There will be increased economic activities in the State because adding value to agricultural products through processing will attract investment, boost exports, and contribute to economic growth. Besides, Busari said that SAPZ initiative will provide opportunities for skill development and training in various aspects of agro-processing and related industries, thereby improving the overall human capital in the state and make Kwarans more competitive in the job market.  

When the agro-structures are ready, there will be improved infrastructure in the state, which can benefit not only the agro-processing industry but also aid the overall development of Kwara State. Likewise, agro-activities can help farmers and other stakeholders in the agricultural value chain to increase their income.  

The Coordinator, in the following words, summarised the benefits of the SAPZ project to the people of the State, “overall, the SAPZ initiative in Kwara State holds the promise of transforming the agricultural sector, creating employment opportunities, fostering economic growth, and improving the overall well-being of the people of Kwara State. It is essential for the government to effectively implement and manage the initiative to realise its full potentials and ensure that Kwarans benefit from these.”

The programme of the Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zone in Kwara reflects the idiosyncrasy of a government that can think in the direction of practical projection, and can envision for her State what will address hunger and halt poverty through leveraging the natural potentials resident in it, such government is on the mission to open bountiful wealth of opportunities for communities in the State.      
  
His Excellency, in an unambivalent manner, has considered agricultural industrialisation as a veritable driver of investment. While we can conclude that the SAPZ initiative is a timely deus ex machine, AbdulRazaq’s KW-SAPZ Programme is a journey to a new Kwara where poverty will become history, and prosperity, through wealth creation will become the people’s watchword!     

Dr. Sangodare Ayinla,
KMCO,
KW-SAPZ Project
07033530735

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