Free-trade zones are one of the ways countries are using to incentivize activities in a range of industries, and one of such industries is agriculture. Presently, Nigeria has special trade areas, which provide tax preferences, reduced administrative barriers for commerce and other trade and investment incentives. As a result of such benefits, certain stakeholders, such as the CEO of Multimix Group Dr. Obiora Madu, are researching special economic zones to promote agriculture and food production.
According to Madu, ‘these free-trade zones could help to create connections between farms, warehouses, and consumers, which in turn increases the concentration of food production and distribution’, he said. He opined that collaboration becomes easier between industrial areas, logistics services and processing plants, which would help strengthen Nigeria’s agricultural sector. According to Madu, ‘developing free trade zones would largely help Nigeria become, for the most part, self-sufficient in food production’. It is consensus that Nigeria’s industrialization could be achieved quicker if the public and private sectors work together. As a result, he encouraged the government to partner with the private sector in replacing traditional farming methods with large-scale agro-industrial zones for food processing plants.
In another development, the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA), which currently has 42 free trade zones and has urged the business community to consider patronizing these zones to reduce the negative impact of COVID-19 pandemic on their business. This is coming at a time the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) has announced plans to establish a network of special crop processing zones (SCPZs) to attract private agricultural investment for processing plants. Experts say that this project will help to boost the agricultural sector and drive industrialization and modernization in Nigeria as well as create employment in the country.