Nigeria, being among the world biggest producers of agro crops, has not exploited much of their export potential. Several recommendations were, however, made for improving the sector at the maiden Nigeria Agricultural Exporter Group Summit (NAEG) in Lagos. DANIEL ESSIET reports.
For Nigeria to export more farm and food products, it must invest heavily in high-value crops.
This was stakeholders’ position at the maiden Nigeria Agricultural Exporter Group Summit (NAEG) in Lagos.
Among the recommendations were that the government should improve the ports to support agro export.
Others were that the government should learn from institutional coordination models of other countries, whose agro export sub-sector is performing at its best, and reorientate farmers to be better agri-preneurs.
One of the stakeholders was NAEG founder Captain John Okakpu, who said agro exports play a significant role in driving the economy and providing employment, as well as developing agriculture-based industries. These, he said, make access to international markets crucial to sustaining economic growth.
Okakpu has worked extensively on raising awareness on food safety and sustainability since his company, ABX World Nigeria Limited, earned Global Good Agricultural Practice (Global GAP) Farm Assurers Certification.
He said Global GAP has licensed his organisation to offer training and certification to farmers. He has helped Anambra State achieve GLOBALGAP Certification, to enable it export agro produce.
He lamented that Nigeria has the potential for a strong agro export industry, but has not been giving the sector adequate attention, which is surprising, given growing world market demands.
He urged producers to access premium high value markets, such as Europe and the United States. “Yet to do so, they must fulfill high standards on food safety and sustainability, worker health and safety,” he said.
To reposition the exports sector, he stressed the imperative of addressing sanitary and phyto-sanitary (SPS) priorities, including improving laboratory infrastructure, establishing food safety standards, harmonising risk assessment tools, improving traceability of products and increasing co-ordination with international standard setting bodies.
In addition to raising awareness for international standards, food safety, product quality and consumer demands, he said his company promotes GAP among producers.
National Expert on Value Chain at United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), Dr. John Isemede, who delivered the keynote paper, urged Nigeria to pursue trade and investment integration at multiple levels, including the Continental Free Trade Area. He stressed that concerted action was needed to restore export revenues and the sector’s reputation.
He spoke against the backdrop of many agencies/units which have no business with inspections carrying out same on agro produce inspection.
He observed that some exporters have lost money on produce said to have been tested.
Isemede, a former director-general, Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), said export is of tremendous importance to agricultural sector.
Chief Executive, Multimix Academy, Mr. Obiora Madu, said for Nigeria to regain export market share, stakeholders must have a clear, shared vision on how to do it.
He urged the government to work with businesses to translate the country’s soaring production wealth into comparable exports.