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SME Guide

Made in Adamawa: How Manufacturing Could Reshape the State’s Economy

Adamawa is one of Nigeria’s north-eastern states with vast agricultural and mineral resources. However, its economy has lagged behind other states due to the underdevelopment of manufacturing and its reliance on small-scale farming. Revitalising manufacturing and enabling large-scale food processing could transform Adamawa into an industrial and agricultural hub. This comprehensive article examines how boosting manufacturing investments could reshape the state’s economic prospects.

Overview of Adamawa’s Economy

Adamawa is blessed with fertile land and key exports like cotton, maize, rice, sugarcane, cattle, and timber. Its main industries are food processing, cotton ginning, cement, and furniture manufacturing. The state contributes about 5% to Nigeria’s GDP. However, productivity remains low and poverty levels are high due to subsistence farming methods, low industrialization, and overdependence on oil revenues.

Challenges Facing the State

Adamawa faces major constraints on industrialization and economic growth. Key challenges include:

  • High production costs due to poor infrastructure like roads, electricity, and water
  • Low private sector investments in factories and agro-processing plants
  • Difficulty accessing credit to fund startups and working capital
  • Overreliance on smallholder farming with low mechanisation
  • Poor connectivity and technology adoption
  • Inadequate technical skills to drive industrialization
  • Insurgency causing business disruptions in northern regions

Boosting manufacturing and enabling commercial agriculture can uplift both industry and agriculture and transform the state’s economy.

Investment Opportunities in Manufacturing

Adamawa has attractive fundamentals for manufacturing growth. Its young and fast-growing population provides a large workforce and consumer market. Strategic programmes by the state and federal governments also aim to improve infrastructure and the business environment. Key manufacturing opportunities include:

Food Processing

Food processing can add value to Adamawa’s grain, dairy, fruit, vegetables, livestock, and fisheries output. Products like packaged foods, beverages, oils, flour, dairy goods, and canned produce have extensive domestic and export demand. Small cottage processors already produce items like milk, peanut butter, and mango juice. However, large-scale plants can harness Adamawa’s high agricultural potential through mechanisation, farmer training, and high-quality processing for national and international markets.

Cotton Textiles and Garments

Adamawa accounts for over 25% of Nigeria’s cotton output. However, only a fraction undergoes spinning, weaving, and garment manufacturing within the state. Cotton clusters are crucial to fostering specialisation by industry players. Facilitating integrated textile manufacturing from cotton growing to garment production can boost exports and jobs.

Packaging Products

The rise of consumer goods, pharmaceuticals, food processing, and eCommerce industries is driving high demand for packaging in Nigeria. Adamawa’s extensive plastic, paper, metal, and wood resources can enable the manufacturing of flexible packaging such as PET bottles, cans, drums, crates, cartons, and corrugated boxes. Local packaging production will also aid food processors and FMCG companies in the state.

Light Manufacturing and Assembly

Adamawa’s metal deposits and minerals, like limestone, provide raw materials for cement, steel, aluminium, chemicals, and glass manufacturing. Its strategic northeastern location close to countries like Cameroon, Chad, and the Central African Republic also enables light assembly of consumer goods. Assembly plants for motorcycles, electronics, appliances, furniture, plastics, construction materials, and automotive components can serve regional exports.

Shoe Manufacturing

The city of Yola has a long history of leatherwork and shoemaking. The Yola shoe industry requires revival to spur microenterprises and factories that can produce for domestic markets and exports. Production can leverage local leather resources. Cluster development will enhance competitiveness.

Government Initiatives to Enable Industrialization

The federal and state governments have launched various policies and programmes to accelerate Adamawa’s industrial development.

Enhancing Infrastructure

The state government aims to improve transportation infrastructure, electricity access, and water supply, which are critical for industries. Key projects include:

  • Upgrading Yola Airport to boost cargo capacity
  • Roads rehabilitation under the Roads Infrastructure Tax Credit Scheme
  • Dam and borehole construction to improve water access
  • Solar power initiatives like the Jumla solar hybrid mini grid will ease electricity shortages.

Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones

The SAPZ programme by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture aims to concentrate agroprocessing activities within designated zones. Infrastructure, incentives, and common facilities will be provisioned to reduce operator costs and boost the processing of commodities like wheat, rice, livestock, dairy, and tomatoes. Two SAPZ locations have been identified within Adamawa State.

Improved Investment Climate

The Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council has implemented reforms in Adamawa to promote trade and investment. Efforts like easier business registration, more efficient land administration, and faster construction permitting aim to boost Adamawa’s Doing Business rankings and compliance.

Industrial Training and Skills Development

Programmes like the National Enterprise Development Programme equip youth and workers with vocational and technical skills for cottage industries, manufacturing, and food processing. The state government has also established vocational training centres and incubation hubs to build an industrial workforce.

MSME Support Initiatives

Schemes like the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme offer microcredit and capacity building to small businesses. The MSME Survival Fund grants working capital to help firms formalise and overcome COVID impacts. Such initiatives aim to strengthen MSME’s contribution to manufacturing.

Key Manufacturing Sub-Sectors to Develop

Within broader manufacturing, Adamawa can focus on building competitive advantage in these strategic sub-sectors:

Food Processing

Adamawa should emphasise value-added food processing of its grains, milk, produce, and meat output by facilitating large-scale plants, farmer linkages, cold storage, and cluster formation. Processing staples like rice, wheat, soybeans, maize, and sorghum can boost domestic supply chains. High-grade packaging will enable processed food exports.

Cotton-Textile-Apparel Cluster

Integrating cotton cultivation, ginning, spinning, weaving, printing, and garment manufacturing will maximise the sector’s job creation and export potential. Facilitating SME clusters and training institutes specifically for apparel skills can nurture this labour-intensive industry.

Agrochemicals and fertilisers

Adamawa’s petrochemical feedstocks, phosphate, and potash deposits enable the manufacturing of fertilisers, crop protection chemicals, and inputs for the state’s farms. Blending plants located close to raw materials and end users can optimise supply chains. Companies like Indorama already operate fertiliser factories in Adamawa.

Leather and Shoes Cluster

Adamawa accounts for over 25% of Nigeria’s cattle herd, which produces hides and skins for leather. Cluster development focusing on tanneries, footwear production, and ancillary firms will boost production, skills, and competitiveness. A leather artisan park has already been established in Karewa, Yola.

Light Manufacturing and Assembly

Assembly plants for appliances, electronics, vehicles, plastics, wood products, and construction materials can serve regional exports while generating local employment. Adamawa’s mineral deposits provide raw material security. Small component and part output can also feed into larger assembly operations.

Strategies for Manufacturing-Led Economic Growth

For Adamawa State to realise its manufacturing potential and catalyse broad-based economic growth, policymakers need to adopt these key strategies:

Improving Infrastructure

Major public investments must upgrade transportation networks, electricity supply, internet connectivity, and water availability across industrial hubs. Infrastructural bottlenecks significantly inflate operating costs for factories.

Facilitating clusters and SEZs

The geographic concentration of industries allows firms to share suppliers, workforce, infrastructure, and knowledge. Special economic zones with streamlined regulations, facilities, and incentives further enhance competitiveness. Cluster development initiatives must target priority manufacturing sub-sectors.

Boosting Investment Promotion

Adamawa needs large-scale private investments in factories, agro-processing plants, and machinery to raise productivity and output. Investment outreach showcasing Adamawa’s strengths and government incentives can attract more FDI and domestic firms.

Strengthening regional value chains

Adamawa can develop integrated manufacturing ecosystems that maximise local sourcing and supply linkages. Connecting SMEs as vendors to large anchor firms also fosters sector development. Participation in regional value chains spanning neighbouring states and countries will enable manufacturing exports.

Improving Agricultural Productivity

Raising farm yields, quality, and production is essential to supply raw materials to industries. Agri-R&D, mechanisation, farmer training, storage, and logistics must be stepped up to provide high-grade inputs for processors.

Facilitating access to credit

Financing initiatives like investment funds, loan guarantees, and subsidised interest rates are vital to enable business borrowing for plant machinery, working capital, and manufacturing investment.

Skills development programmes

Technical training institutes and industry partnerships must continuously build a talent pipeline for manufacturing sub-sectors. The curriculum should align with emerging skills needs, while apprenticeships and vocational schemes prepare youth for factory jobs.

Technology Extension Services

Extending science and technology support services to MSME manufacturers will aid productivity upgrades. Such extension centres provide access to appropriate machinery, product design assistance, quality control, and logistics solutions tailored for small firms.

Export marketing support

Assisting manufacturers to meet export market needs in terms of standards compliance, branding, foreign regulations, and logistics will boost exports. Capacity building in trade procedures and participation in international exhibitions also connect firms to opportunities.


Adamawa has strong agricultural resources, minerals, and demographics to develop competitive manufacturing. However, realising this potential requires long-term efforts to enable private investments, foster clusters, build local skills, and improve infrastructure and farmer linkages. With supportive public policies, strategic focus on priority sub-sectors, and leveraging regional ties, a ‘Made in Adamawa’ tag can signify high-quality manufactured exports in the future. By shifting from smallholder farming to commercial agriculture and industrialization, Adamawa can become a leading manufacturing hub in northern Nigeria.

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