If you are familiar with the Brazilian Agricultural terrain, then the Cerrado will not be strange to you. This is an area covering over 2,000,000 square km, which is about 23% of the country. The cerrado has a rich diversity, estimated at 160,000 species of fungi, plants and animals. According to the oxford journals, over the past 25 years modern agriculture has been developed in the cerrado to produce soya, maize, rice, etc and enormous numbers of cattle are raised in planted pastures. A lot of the success of the Brazilian Agriculture is linked to the Cerrado. However, I was pleasantly surprised when a senior Brazilian colleague of mine informed me that the Cerrado was not the making of the government but people moving into the region to practice agriculture on a large scale after many years of treating the acidity in the region with lime.
Bringing this closer home, the government of Tanzania wanted to replicate this feat but this time, with the support of the government. The Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT) was initiated at the World Economic Forum (WEF) Africa Summit 2010. SAGCOT, is a multi-stakeholder partnership to rapidly develop the region’s agricultural potential. The goal is to create a public-private partnership that will develop commercial agriculture along the southern corridor of Tanzania by identifying new and existing project opportunities in the infrastructure and agriculture sectors. Think about it, if you have excellent road/transportation networks around and through the corridor, communities start evolving with the support of private investment who have the right incentive to farm around the corridor. Coordinating this with the appropriate financial programs, market access and commodity pricing transparency, I see few chances of failure.
It is with the same spirit that the LAKAJI(Lagos – Kano – Jibiya) Agricultural Growth corridor was developed by the Nigeria Expanded Trade and Transport (NEXTT) project to stimulate investment in Nigeria’s agricultural sector, linking the largest consumer market in West Africa (WA) with some of the highest potential agricultural zones in Nigeria. In partnership with USAID, an initial assessment was completed to identify investment opportunities related to infrastructures, logistics, along the corridor (if interested, I can forward the findings to you although its available on the internet) and the findings are quite insightful and at the least worth reading.
Can this be a real catalyst for agricultural development in Nigeria if implemented properly?I would like to review some of the projects proposed from the assessment conducted on the corridor over the next few weeks and hopefully make people aware of potential investment opportunities in the region.