AfDB, FG Set to Partner Enugu Gov’t on Development of Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones

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The African Development Bank (AFDB) and the federal government through the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security and the Ministry of Finance, on Thursday, disclosed its readiness to partner with the Enugu State Government in the development of Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones (SPAZ) in the state.

This was in line with the promise made to the people by the Enugu State governor, Dr. Peter Mbah, that his administration would establish SAPZ in the three senatorial zones in the state as a way of harnessing commercial agriculture, food production, and rural areas into economic zones.

The Minister of Finance and Coordinating Economy, Mr. Wale Edun, who was represented by Dr. Akande Oyetola of the African Financial Institutions while leading the team to Enugu State, described their visit to the proposed over 1000 hectares of land earmarked for the pilot project as a preparatory mission to ascertain the level of preparedness of the state government for the landmark project.

The minister, who commended the state’s readiness for the SAPZ initiative having provided over 1000 hectares of land for the kickoff with access road to the farmland, maintained that Enugu had met a good number of the condition precedent which a state must fulfill before the intervention of other partners in the development of the agro-processing zones.

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“We are here to improve the livelihood of the farmers, create investment for them, and improve their incentives as they engage in their farming activities. Our mission here is to see what Enugu State has in place to propel the bank to disburse funds for this project. I must say that I am satisfied with what I have seen because the state has provided over a thousand hectares of land which is one of the criteria a state must have to enable it to participate in this programme. It is one thing to be envisaging participation in a programme and another thing to have the requisite infrastructure. So, the infrastructure we are seeing now is satisfactory to us,” the minister added.

In his address, the traditional ruler of Owo Community in Nkanu East Local Government Area of the state, Igwe Okeke Arum, assured the visiting team that his people had already embraced the development, adding that Owo people would donate additional land if required and would continue to ensure the success of the project in order to guarantee food security in the country.

“We gave this land to the government with our hearts. This is over 1000 hectares, and we are ready to give more. We welcome this development because we know that it will not only help our community but also the state and Nigeria at large. The community is ready, and we are supporting this development that is coming because the benefit is enormous,” the traditional ruler further noted.

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The State Commissioner for Agriculture and Agro Industrialisation, Engr. Patrick Ubru, who was accompanied by senior government officials in the state, said the Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zone was in line with Governor Peter Mbah’s mission to end hunger and eradicate poverty in the state.

“We are very much ready for this project. As you can see, the governor is already constructing a 40km dual carriageway from Owo-Ubahu-Amankanu-Neke-Ikem-Obollo, linking Enugu State to the North Central. He has equally done the access road to the over 1000 hectares of land. We have equally gone ahead to do environmental impact analysis and feasibility studies, which we are going to amend in line with the recommendations of the federal government before their next visit. The community, too, is welcoming the development with two hands and promising to donate more land when the need arises,” Ubru said.

Other dignitaries in the team included Dr Chuma Ezedimma, Team Leader, African Development Bank; Dr. Louis Enaberue from the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security; Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Agro Industrialisation, Mr. Victor Ngwu; Special Adviser to the Governor on Agriculture and Agro Industrialisation, Engr. Mike Ogbuekwe; Special Adviser to the Governor on Donour Relations, Dubem Onyia (Jnr), among others.

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