In an effort to grow the agricultural sector and aid diversification of the nation’s economy, ABX World, a Nigerian courier/cargo firm, in collaboration with Arik Air and Skyway Aviation Handling Company (SAHCOL) plan to make no less than $52.2billion from Nigeria’s agro-allied products exports to markets across Europe and the rest of the world annually.
Speaking to Aviation journalists, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Office of ABX World Nigeria, Captain John Okakpu, described the revolutionary project as one that will leapfrog the agricultural sector in the country while boosting the supply chain involving transportation, logistics, aviation, packaging, among others; in a bid to creating jobs for the teaming youths. According to him, already, ABX WORLD has reached out to the Federal Government to leverage global agro-allied sub-sector while breaking the challenges pose by mono-produce nature the country practices at the moment. “Assuming one million out of over three million Nigerians living in the United Kingdom make purchases of food items from Nigeria at the cost of $100 weekly even with the current exchange rate, Nigeria cannot make less than $5.2billion from this sub-sector annually. The ABX World MD/CEO, said that, agriculture is taking back its leading contributor position to the global economy; hence oil & gas sector is seriously in shambles and Nigeria must not be left behind. Stressing the need for President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to jettison penchant interest on the oil & gas sector facing bleak future, Cap. Okakpu added, “We know the price of crude oil today. Nigeria is largely a mono-dimension economy focused on crude oil extract, export and import. Our banking sector is no way to be reckoned with the rest of the world. God wants to reposition Nigeria, which is the reason we are faced with the crude oil price downfall. “People like me would prefer the crude oil sales for $10 (USD) per barrel, because that will wake us up from slumber. Before crude oil Nigeria was, but we lost our focus because of that. For Nigeria to balance her budget at the moment, crude oil has to sell for $128 (USD) per barrel. How do we make up the difference? Is it by producing more? Do we have the capacity to produce more to make up the difference? We have no choice than to go back to the foundation which is agriculture. To bring about the required turnaround, he said that the firm has engaged top supply chains in Europe, as about 60% of the agro-allied produce shall be exported to the European market; “get farmers through their respective corporative societies for training on how and get certified on the supply chain processes such as the kind of pesticides to use. Through that, they can be guaranteed three year of supply”. He further stressed on the need for establishing purpose-driven cargo facilities, strategically built around passenger airports to attract and sustain airlines’ interest in the business. He urged the Federal Government on the auspicious provision of airfreight subsidy in the agricultural sector for rapid growth of Agricultural sector and aid the ailing economy. According to him, under the platform, over 20 million jobs are set to be created on the provision of $0.50 (N100.00) per kilogram of agricultural produce for airfreight transportation. “This is an avenue to brining all participants together to integrate their individual roles in this sector. ABX World strategy is to generate over 50,000 tons of agricultural produce annually for export, while targeting produce such as pumpkin leave, fresh ginger and garlic, white and red sweet potatoes, washed bitter leaf, etc.” “It is going to be a very painful task and journey that will take a lot of time and hard work, because the attitude of some government officials are discouraging the system from moving forward. But the bottom line is that we are no longer talking about classroom theories. Our goal is to champion agro-allied export in Nigeria. We don’t want to lead, because we are already leading,” he added. He lamented that whereas Nigeria’s agricultural produce are in high demands at the European markets and world over, however, keeping to quality has been the bane of farmers usually orchestrated by unprofessional middle-men. Capt. Okakpu said that both Arik Air and SAHCOL are EU certified with ACC3 and RA3 certifications respectively; such an evidence of the acceptability of EU Governments to rely on the due compliance of ABX WORLD and the partners to help ensure that all laws are abided.