By Onome Amuge
- Analysts decry failure to exploit global agric market
How wrong headed agriculture policy costs Nigeria
- Cashew = $58.1bn
- Palm oil = $33.2bn
- Soybean = $58bn;
- Wheat = $42.6bn
- Coffee = $30.4 billion
- Corn = $30.2bn
- Frozen shrimps = $19bn
- Banana = $13.7bn
- Raw cashew nuts = $6.84bn
- Sesame seeds = $2.2bn
- Cocoa = $9.35bn
- Dried ginger = $845m
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Nigeria, ranked Africa’s largest economy, possesses one of the world’s largest varieties of agricultural commodities from which it could earn over $242 billion in the global export market, a viable channel capable of efficiently bolstering the country’s revenue generation; but the country is woefully failing to effectively tap into this revenue source because of a largely uncoordinated and nonstrategic export earning approach to its agriculture management.
Decades of neglect of agriculture as a result of the discovery of easy money making crude oil, as well as policy mismatch has meant that Nigeria has been unable to return to times when its agriculture was organised in a coherent and coordinated manner that allowed it to earn foreign exchange from exporting its produce.
Bamidele Ayemibo, lead consultant, 3T Impex Trade Academy and facilitator at the Lagos Business School, provided back-up data in a disclosure at a Virtual Town Hall Meeting which had the theme, “The Good, Bad and Ugly Sides of Export in Nigeria”, hosted by the Network of Practicing Non-oil Exporters of Nigeria (NPNEN).
The erstwhile chairman, Export Group, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), noted that Nigerian agricultural produce is capable of generating revenue through export, especially through maximising the opportunity presented by the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
He stressed that agricultural commodities such as cassava of which Nigeria is the leading producer in the world, soybean, cashew, yam, maize, tomatoes, cow skin, cocoa, among others, made the list of commodities with untapped potentials in the global market.
Presenting an infographics report, which he made available to Business A.M., Ayemibo highlighted the revenue potential of each export crop Nigeria is capable of exploiting extensively under the proper measures and export standards. The export commodities include: cashew with potential export value of $58.1 billion; palm oil, with potential to generate $33.2 billion; soybean at $58 billion; wheat at $42. 6 billion; coffee at $30.4 billion; corn at $30.2 billion; frozen shrimps at $19 billion; banana at $13.7 billion; raw cashew nuts at $6.84 billion; sesame seeds at $2.2 billion; cocoa at $9.35 billion; and dried ginger worth $845 million.
Ayemibo stressed that one of the major reasons why many agricultural export businesses do not yield expected results is because the people behind it lack the knowledge to make the business a success.
He noted that anyone in the agricultural sector must be well trained and educated in trading, especially when it concerns the global market, adding that the government needs to ensure the management staff of any intending export business undergoes rigorous trade training/education before they get export licenses.
Another challenge hindering Nigeria’s export performance, according to Ayemibo, is the failure of the country to enhance infrastructural development and invest in agricultural mechanisation to tackle post-harvest losses, resulting in the spoilage of agricultural commodities worth millions in monetary value and dwindling the export quality and quantities of the commodities. He called for these challenges to be addressed promptly to propel Nigeria’s agricultural might in the global market.
Prince Alum, an agriculture analyst and member of the non-oil exporters association, suggested the use of national carriers to export fresh produce across borders. This, he said, will equally reduce the expenditure on transportation.
“Most times, when we ship our goods from Nigeria, it first goes to Turkey or Ethiopia. Sometimes, they get lost in transit but if we had a national carrier that could export commodities directly to England, Rome and other destinations, it would help reduce the cost of transporting goods,” he stated.
Commenting on the economic wealth of oil palm, Iyare Harrison, an experienced oil palm farmer and general secretary, National Palm Produce Association of Nigeria (NPPAN) said oil palm has the ability to revive the economy and bring Nigeria to limelight in the international stage.
In his assessment of a 2016 report by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (ISSD), which showed that the export value of palm oil and palm kernel oil (crude and refined) was worth $28.2 billion and $3.7 billion respectively, Harrison explained that one of the reasons why Nigeria, once a global leader in oil palm production, has failed to dominate the trade compared to palm oil producing counterparts such as Indonesia and Malaysia who, according to global market data account for over 80 per cent of world’s palm production, is as a result of government negligence. He added that there was no roadmap in the Nigerian palm sector and everyone was just farming independently without a long term plan.
“We have continually appealed to the government to create an oil palm board to help harness this roadmap so that for generations to come, the oil palm sector will be stabilised and surging ahead towards greater development goals. In a country such as Malaysia, there is a roadmap. We too must design one that is peculiar to the Nigerian community. For example, many of our farms are not accessible by vehicles, how do people get to farms that are not accessible by road? We must work towards sorting such an issue,” he said.
On how oil palm production and investment can be made more attractive to enhance participation of investors, he explained that a government-established or supported board/council will help regulate, promote, enhance, intensify and educate farmers in the industry.
In his words, “Nobody in the world wants to invest where there are too many uncertainties, where they are not sure of the state of their investments. So many people want to invest in oil palm in Nigeria and this council will give them that leverage and assurance that their investments won’t be a loss”.
In a 2020 commodity export report compiled by the National Bureau of Statistics, Nigeria’s top 10 agricultural exports were estimated to have earned the country about N289.3 billion in one year (April 2019 – March 2020).
An analytical view of the data showed that sesame seeds and cocoa are Nigeria’s biggest agricultural exports with the combination of both commodities accounting for over 60 per cent of the country’s total agricultural exports. This, according to trade analysts, is a poor representation of Nigeria’s export capacity as the most populous black nation has the potential of hitting gains way above its current level in the global market.