“Agro Export Opportunities” A recently published report states that Nigeria is losing about N3.6 trillion to export opportunities from agricultural commodities due to lack of operational and investment opportunities.
The report states further the need to resolve these challenges to help create new jobs, reduce cost of perishables, and provide healthy food to aid food security, among other benefits.
According to the report obtained from a recent workshop on Agro Air Logistics with the sub-theme ‘Enhancing Air Transport Support for Perishable Goods’ at Airport Business Summit and Expo 2018, operational and investment gap between the agro perishable industry and the aviation sector is hindered by myriad of factors.
The official document signed by Fortune Idu, managing director of FCI International Limited, listed the challenges to include: distance of production site to the market, high prices of perishable goods coming from loss along the supply chain, insecurity hindering sustained production and evacuation.
Others are multiple levies, poor transportation, poor logistics infrastructure, power, relatively crude local market, poor access to international the market, lack of comprehensive agro air logistics policy, clustering and touting at the freight corridor, de-marketing of Nigeria and lack of professional manpower placements.
More, as revealed by the report are: Low government support to private investors, discontinued previous air cargo projects by Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and non-expansion of the air cargo apron of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) project currently abandoned.
If these challenges are resolved, the report states that there will be more new jobs, new airport revenue, reduction in cost of perishables, healthy food to mitigate food security, increased revenue for airlines, support to government plan for ranching, creation of investment opportunities into special cargo services and promotion of investments into cold chain logistics.
Recommending some ways to close the gap, the report states that there is need for stronger government policy on agro perishable air logistics and that there should be an establishment of a perishable goods unit in all airports to enable all airports capacity provide support for warehousing, handling and transportation of the perishable cargo through the country and beyond.
“There is also need for the establishment of one-stop quality inspection machines along the air logistics chain that allows shippers to access customs, quarantine, Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) services for both local and international freighting.
“We need to promote further development of the Airport Free Trade Zone to strategically drive the perishable air cargo potentials under private public sector agreement.
“That Federal Ministry of Transportation, Aviation to advocate for the revisiting and review of the past air cargo programme of FAAN in order to implement the project under a PPP arrangement as government has already invested capital.
“Establishment of a joint committee of Ministry of Transportation Aviation, Agriculture, Federal Ministry of trade and Investment and relevant agencies and organisations to develop policies that will revolutionize cold chain operations in Nigeria and attract investment into cold chain logistics.
“That effort should be made to address the national power challenges in the country by looking into alternative sources of energy and promote independent regional generation,” it states.
The report pointed out that encouragement of private sector investment is key for addressing these challenges and sustaining the process of making Nigeria an international player in the agro and perishable export sector; therefore government should create the right environment and leadership that will allow the private sector to have confidence in long term investment.
It equally noted that introduction of export cargo growing promotion tax incentives may be required to be extended to private investors who want to develop perishable cargo handling centres along the transport corridor.
“The exploitation of unmanned aerial vehicles in agro business and the encouragement of research and youth engagement in this new technological area for possible perishable cargo delivery and to provide connectivity to remote farm areas”, the report recommended.
The fifth annual Airport Business Summit and Expo for Africa aimed at closing the gaps between the air transport sector and agro sector.
It was designed to engage both sectors in a discussion aimed at resolving challenges that hinder the seamless transportation of perishable goods to both the local and global markets.