'Safety issues and Nigeria’s agricultural export potential'

'Safety issues and Nigeria’s agricultural export potential'
Published
Wednesday, 06 October 2021 ~ Abachi Ungbo

Sir: Growing Nigeria’s non-oil export is critical to the much-sought economic growth, employment and poverty reduction. Not least, in light of the reality of hydrocarbon resources losing its reliability and honoured position as a revenue source.

Over the years, this realisation has spawned myriad of non-export campaigns, commentaries as well as other initiatives aimed at creating export opportunities for developing countries like Nigeria.

It is my considered view, that the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) for instance, enacted in 2000 with the aim of building trade ties between the U.S and Sub-Saharan Africa was somewhat a litmus test to the preparedness of the country’s transition from the lopsided character of the economy in favour of oil.

Regrettably, we failed to get our acts together in making the most of the rich opportunity. From textile/apparel, minerals and metals to agricultural products, disappointing results were posted.  For the most part, oil was responsible for the rise in export under the initiative.

Agribusiness is important not least that agriculture is a major contributor to the nation’s GDP, employer of huge labour and also area of comparative advantage albeit its capacity remains largely latent due to many known factors.

It goes without saying that agricultural commodity export holds phenomenal economic prospect for Nigeria. The agricultural produce forms the preponderance of non-oil export with pundits putting the value of processed and non-processed at 70 per cent. Aside, the use of these agricultural products as raw materials the huge Diaspora population still have their palate satiated by favourite local dishes.

The sector recorded a stellar performance in Q2 of 2021. The National Bureau oF Statistics (NBS) data showed 165.27 billion Naira worth of agricultural products were exported higher than Q1of same year. The improvement is bigger when juxtaposed with data from the preceding year.

Reports of the shutting out of Nigeria’s agricultural products are too disconcerting to discount. About 76 per cent of agricultural commodities suffer rejection by the European Union (E.U) according to National Agency for Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC). And, for the most part, the issue is quality and safety related.

Regrettably, the list of banned agricultural products is long. Sometime in 2015, the E.U placed a ban on beans over an unacceptable amount of dichlorvos pesticide which cost the country $362.5 million annually; it came not long after melon seeds was banned for high aflatoxin levels.

This translates not just to huge losses in revenue but sullied reputation! The appalling state of affairs is an indictment on regulatory quality. It was reported that the E.U issued several notifications especially to beans exporters without serious efforts at addressing the problems. More so, the E.U is one of the biggest export destinations of Nigeria agro- products.

Incorporating global best practices in the drive toward ramping up agricultural production will confer competitiveness to our products. Basically, quality food products begin from the farm through appropriate practices and use of farm inputs such as fertiliser, pesticides and post-harvest handling. In fact, it covers the entire value chain right to the table.

The E.U Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) on pesticides remains a requirement that the country must deal with. Others include availability of storage centres, reports of moulds forming on some of the products are storage related challenges. Information is key and should be available. The dearth of extension workers has been an albatross round the agricultural sector.

Of course, the quality of products required by every export market is not something shrouded in secrecy. The whiff of corruption is strong regarding how offending products slithers through quality enforcing institutions. Legislation and stronger institutional reforms will be instrumental to the desired change.

Unless changes are instituted on how agricultural exports are handled and subjected to tight standard and quality test, the country may not escape poor showing in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which is yet another opportunity.

Namibia is an object lesson on diligence and hard work in incorporating standard and quality in export products. It was reported that in 2019, the country exported 124,000 metric tonnes of beef to markets in the European Union, China, Norway and Britain. Today, it has the honour of being the first African country to export beef to the U.S

With complaints and rejection of Nigeria agricultural products, it is disquieting that the country may just have become a receptacle of all manner of harmful imported food products having gone through a lax and compromised monitoring system. It bears stating that poor quality agricultural products hobble socio-economic development due to the diminution in trade between partners.

Abachi Ungbo

View related news articles

Nigeria: How exporters can boost non-oil export with e-commerce - NEPC

The Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) has tasked exporters in the country to explore e-commerce to boost Nigeria’s non-oil export sector and reach global markets. The Regional Coordinator, South West, NEPC, Mr Samuel Oyeyipo, made the call while speaking at a sensitization workshop organized by the agency in Lagos themed Earn Dollars by Selling on Amazon. Speaking on the situation caused by the global pandemic on Nigerian...

14 September 2021

'Funding challenges undermine SMEs’ growth in Africa'

Analysts who spoke at a recent webinar organised by the American Business Council in Nigeria, in collaboration with US Chamber of Commerce, Amcham Ghana and Amcham South Africa on the US-Africa relations, have identified lack of adequate funding as a major challenge to the growth of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Africa. The analysts were of the view that SMEs across Africa are faced with serious funding challenges, despite their...

30 July 2021

NACC restates commitment to trade ties between Nigeria, United States

With less than five years to the end of the extended African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), the Nigerian American Chamber of Commerce (NACC) has reiterated its commitment to ensuring that Nigeria enjoys the benefit of the scheme. With the change of the United States political leadership, the Chamber is hopeful that ties between the two countries would improve, even as it urged the government to address environmental challenges limiting...

19 February 2021

Nigeria: ‘Prospects of improved supports from US bright under Biden’

Director General of Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Dr. Muda Yusuf, told DEBO OLADIMEJI that he expects more support for Nigeria from the United States (US) under the Biden administration.  What are the economic implications of Joe Biden Presidency For Nigeria?There is likely to be some positive changes as far as bilateral economic and trade relations are concerned.  The US-Nigeria Bi-national Commission,...

23 January 2021

Nigeria’s duty-free export to US shrinks to $351m

Nigeria’s export to the United States under a duty-free policy declined in the first nine months of 2020, recording $351.73m from January to September. According to the latest African Growth and Opportunity Act policy trade statistics, exports to the US under the policy fell by 86.97 per cent from $2,699.13m in the first nine months of 2019 to $351.73m in the corresponding period in 2020. The AGOA, a United States’ trade policy, enacted...

27 December 2020

Chamber plans business parks to deepen US-Nigerian trade relations

The Nigerian America Chamber of Commerce says it is planning to establish parks in states for businesses to benefit from the duty-free Africa Growth Opportunities Act of the United States government. The President, NACC, Otunba Toyin Akomolafe, during a courtesy visit to The PUNCH head office in Ogun State on Tuesday said the parks would be a platform to create awareness of the eligible products and acceptable standards by the American...

16 December 2020

'Nigeria’s duty-free export to US shrinks to $300m'

Nigeria’s export to the United States under a duty-free policy declined in the first eight months of 2020, recording $300.48m from January to August. According to the latest African Growth and Opportunity Act policy trade statistics, exports to the US under the duty-free policy fell by 88 per cent from $2,502.86m in the first eight months of 2019 to $300.48m in the corresponding period in 2020. The AGOA, a United States’ trade policy,...

23 October 2020

'The strategic importance of AGOA'

The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) is a United States bipartisan trade legislation that was signed into law on May 18, 2000 by former US President Bill Clinton – it means AGOA is 20 years old this year. Initially, the Act was planned to last for eight years but former President George Bush signed legislative amendments into law in July 2004 and extended the duration to 2015. Then on June 29, 2015, former US President Barack Obama...

13 July 2020

Nigeria and the benefits of reviving cotton sector

In the 1980s and 1990s, Nigeria had, unarguably, one of Africa’s largest textile industry with over 180 textile mills functioning optimally, employing close to over 450,000 workers and contributing in excess of 25 per cent of the workforce in the manufacturing sector. Sadly, that once vibrant textile industry, due to lack of vision on the part of those managing the economy at some point in time, became a shadow of its former self as most of...

18 March 2020

Namibia: Meatco hailed for beef export success … ‘nothing good comes easy’

Minister of International Relations and Corporation Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah yesterday hailed the exportation of Namibian beef to the United States, describing it as a “great achievement” in the advancement of the country economic diplomacy.  Nandi-Ndaitwah made the remarks during the sending off of the first container of 25 tons of Namibian beef to the US, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania’s largest city yesterday, making Namibia the first...

21 February 2020