The global food industry is estimated at $8 trillion and is said to have employed about 40million people in 2018.
By this figure, it is 4.7 times bigger than the automobile industry, estimated at $1.3 trillion, 7 times larger than the information technology industry valued at $0.9 trillion and 8.4 times larger than iron and steel industry at $0.8trillion, according to the statistics by the African Development Bank.
Professor Banji Oyelaran-Oyeyinka, the special adviser on industrialisation to the president of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr Akinwumi Adesina, where he is coordinating the establishment of Agro-Industrial Processing Zones and industrial policy in several African countries, said Nigeria could not afford to ignore the need for Special Agro-Processing Zones (SAPZs) as the way forward to achieving industrialisation.
The AfDB, in collaboration with the Federal Government, is spending more than $500 million to kick-start agro industrial zones across the country.
The SAPZs are designed to concentrate agro-processing activities within areas of high agricultural potential. They enable agricultural producers, processors, aggregators and distributors to operate in one vicinity, reducing transaction costs and sharing business development services for increased productivity and competitiveness.
The first and second phases are expected to have six zones focusing on major crops and livestock of comparative advantage.
Professor Oyelaran-Oyeyinka recently told stakeholders in Abuja that the AfDB was currently supporting similar zones in about 15 countries’ emerging economies, including India, Ethiopia, South Korea (400+ agro-zones). He said countries like Senegal, Ethiopia, Brazil and Vietnam had gone far while Nigeria lagged behind despite.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Sabo Nanono, also stressed the need for the project to kick off as soon as possible, saying it is crucial to the development of the country.