Nigeria Has Room To Grow Agriculture, Export Perishables

Nigeria Has Room To Grow Agriculture, Export Perishables

From Ventures Africa.

Agriculture provides work for 70 percent of Nigerians in Africa’s second-largest economy, but the country has not tapped its potential for the export of perishable goods, an African aviation boss said.

Nigeria is at a competitive disadvantage against Cameroon when it comes to exporting perishable goods, said DHL Aviation Sub-Sahara Commercial Manager Abayomi Adetola, according to a report in Ventures Africa.

DHL makes money by filling near-empty flights with perishable goods from Africa, Adetola said. “But, unfortunately (in Nigeria) because we are an importing nation, we are unable to get anything.”

Nigeria just started exporting perishables to Europe in 2012, the report says, whereas in Douala (Cameroon’s largest city) alone, DHL picks up 60 tonnes of fresh fruits and vegetables a week bound for Europe.

Nigeria’s airports are not set up for exports of perishables, with the result that exports often get destroyed, Adetola said.

“Infrastructural issues such as cold rooms are yet to be developed for the export of perishables,” he said. “The available infrastructure is only designed for imports.”

Other problems with Nigerian exports are duplication and red tape. Six or seven people must sign export documents in Nigeria, “but in Accra and Douala, they are just about two,” he said. “It increases the cost for the shippers and the time it takes to process. It ought to be a one-stop-shop thing. That is what they do in Accra.”

Adetola said he would like to advise the Nigerian government to open up the market, address certification issues and ensure that international airports have facilities for agricultural produce exports instead of depending on the existing cargo facilities used for imports.

The DHL boss said he sees a bright prospect for Nigerian exports with government backing.

“Most airlines drop their cargoes here in Nigeria and go to Accra to pick fresh products, or to Nairobi to pick flowers,” he said. “They burn fuel in going to these places. If they have something to pick from Nigeria, the prices will be lower. We will be able to compete favorably at the export market. It will create a lot of jobs for many Nigerians.”

Read more at Ventures Africa.