Oyo is among six states listed by the African Development Bank (AfDB) for implementation of its Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones (SPAZs) programme.
Oyo State makes up cluster 2 of the SPAZs project alongside Ondo, Lagos, Ekiti, Ogun and Osun states.
The project aims at boosting the rapid development of modern agro-processing capacity in the country.
This information came to the fore when team lead of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr Chucks Ezedinma alongside other delegates of AfDB and those of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), paid a courtesy call on Governor Seyi Makinde, at Oyo governor’s office, on Monday.
Speaking, Ezedinma explained that AfDB was presently undertaking an appraisal of the Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones (SAPZs).
He pointed out that the ongoing appraisal was aimed at designing the programme in a way that will be transformational, youth-oriented, gender-oriented and environment-sustainable.
Ezedinma said: “I bring you greetings from our president, Dr Akinwunmi Adesina. The bank is currently in the country to undertake what we call the appraisal of the Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones, which is the lead African strategic programme of the bank.
“Currently, the project is designed as a programme that will be done in six states and Oyo State happened to be one of the six states that we are going to be starting with.
“We are looking at designing the programme in a way that will be transformational, youth-oriented, gender-oriented, environment-sustainable and ensuring that we also put into cognisance the issue of climate change.”
Responding, Governor, Seyi Makinde, assured that the special Agro-Processing Zones (SAPZ) Project will also have the support of the government of the state at the topmost level.
He added that his administration was committed to improving the agricultural outputs of the state so that it could take its pride of place and take many unemployed youths out of the streets.
While asserting his commitment to improving the agric sector, he stated that the state would soon fix at least 200 kilometres of rural roads through the Rural Access and Agricultural Marketing Project (RAAMP).
Makinde said: “Let me use this opportunity to also thank a partner, IFAD. They are involved in the Rural Access and Agricultural Marketing Project. Though we are about to kick off on that one, but this year we are fixing over 200 kilometres of rural roads.
“When Dr Debo Akande told me of this visit, I had to cancel all other schedules to meet with you to show the importance we attach to the SAPZ programme.
“So, you can expect support and attention from the topmost level of the government of Oyo State.
“We are excited about this programme, because the four pillars, which this administration is standing upon are education, health, expansion of our economy and security. And in expanding our economy, we are looking towards where we have a comparative advantage and that is agriculture.
“We are keen to take our space in terms of agricultural outputs. So, this could not have come at a better time for us and, as an administration, because we want to take many of our unemployed youths off the streets, we know agriculture and agribusiness is the way to go.”