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Cross River Govt says AfDB $540m will boost food security, employment

The funding from the AFDB is to support inclusive and sustainable agro-industrial development in Nigeria.

Cross River State governor, Bassey Otu [Prince Otu Media]

Erasmus Ekpang, the State Commissioner for Information, said this on Wednesday in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Cross River.

He said that the state’s inclusion in the first phase of the project was a testament to the “People First Mantra” of Gov. Bassey Otu. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the funding from the AFDB is to support inclusive and sustainable agro-industrial development in Nigeria.

Cross River has been listed as one of the three states expected to benefit from the disbursement of the fund for the development of Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones (SAPZs). Ekpang noted that the state received news of the AfDB disbursement with open arms, adding that it would add to what the government was already doing to transform the agricultural sector in the state.

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He said that only recently, the state had launched ₦30 billion in agriculture development funds purposely to boost the production of Cocoa, Cassava and Maize among others.

“Development of Agriculture and its value chain is one of the priority areas of the governor, and that is why the state is commending the AfDB initiative.

“This initiative will go a long way to help actualise Gov. Otu’s vision to enhance food security and boost employment in the state.

“The state currently has several investors that have indicated interest in the agricultural sector of the economy and all these are the true reflection of the governor’s position to transform the sector and other aspects of the state economy.

“This is why we are indeed happy and received the cheering news from the AfDB,” the commissioner said.

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According to the AfDB, three states – Oyo, Kaduna and Cross River – are to benefit from phase one of the SAPZs while others are to get theirs as soon as they are through with documentation.

The disbursement is part of moves by the Nigerian government and the bank to ensure food security in the country. According to the AfDB Vice President, Prof. Banji Oyelaran-Oyeyinka, the SAPZ is an initiative of the bank aimed at turning the rural landscape into economic zones of prosperity.

Oyelaran-Oyeyinka said the initiative was also to harness the power of commercial agriculture and food.

"The primary objective is to support inclusive and sustainable agro-industrial development in Nigeria.

“Phase one of the project is at the point of disbursement.

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“Kaduna, Oyo and Cross River States are all in the process of receiving disbursements and we hope for the other states to speed up with their documentation so that we can fast-track these states.

"We raised $540,000,000 in catalytic funding and we expect every state to find a partner that will bring equity and join up with them. It is a government-enabled project but private-sector driven,” he said.

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