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Governor Ahmed Usman Ododo of Kogi State has said the state government is ready to meet all requirements for the establishment of a Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zone (SAPZ) in the state.

Ododo gave the assurances on Friday when he hosted a delegation from the Africa Development Bank (AfDB) and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security which had earlier visited the state to undertake an assessment tour of the proposed project sites in the state.

The project which is an initiative of the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security and the Kogi State Government is expected to attract significant foreign and domestic private sector investment into the State.

Ododo noted that the state government has already allocated 254 hectares of land in Ukpake, AjaoKuta local government area for the purpose of the special agro-industrial processing zone, stressing that the decision to establish the agro-industrial processing zone in the area was due to the strategic location and its proximity to essential resources such as water supply, electricity, gas, a railway line linking Kogi and a number of states and the proposed international cargo airport in Adogo which is a few kilometers from the proposed site of the agro-industrial facility.

The governor assured the delegation that the state government will do everything possible to provide the enabling environment for the selection of the State and the eventual take off of the project, stressing that it is in line with his administration’s policy on industrialization and to guarantee food security through investment in agriculture.

He further noted that such investment in the agricultural value chain will increase productivity, provide access to market for farmers and provide job opportunities for the teeming population of the state.

The Governor commended the African Development Bank for the initiative which he said would enhance job creation and guarantee food security in Kogi state and Nigeria at large.

Dr. Bashir Ibrahim Gaya who led the AfDB delegation said the assessment tour was intended to verify the readiness of states to be selected in the 2nd phase for establishment of the Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones (SAPZ) in Nigeria, which he noted are being implemented in 18 countries accross Africa.

He disclosed that the first phase in Nigeria, covering seven states including the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, has commenced, adding that the team was in Kogi to assess the State’s readiness as a possible beneficiary in the second phase of the project.

The state commissioner for finance, budget and economic planning, Asiwaju Ashiru Idris assured of the political will by the state government to see to the realisation of the project while his counterpart in the ministry of agriculture and food security, Mr Timothy Ojomah said the proposed agro-industrial processing facility will be supported by adequate and reliable supply of raw materials and semi-processed agricultural produce from the state Agricultural Transformation Centres in Alape, Anyigba and Osara.

The Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zone is expected to process maize, cassava, rice, palm oil, cashew, sugarcane and fish, in line with the commitment of Governor Ododo to transform Kogi State into an agro-industrial hub.

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