Coordinator, AviaCargo, Road Map Committee, Mr. Ikechi Uko has said that despite Nigeria being the largest producer of many Agro-products globally, it loses $1bn annually to non-certification of Agri-produce for export.
This is just as he has lamented that 80% of containers arriving Nigeria return empty and out of every 10 containers that come into the country laden with imports, only about 1 or 3 leave the country with exports.
According to statistics he churned out in 2021, Nigeria was 5th biggest African exporting nation alongside South Africa, Egypt, Algeria and Morocco accounting for over 55.7% of the continent’s overall export by value( worldexports.com).
Airports Council International ( ACI) same year put value to the cargo exports value in tons with the Murtala Muhammed International Airport accounting for 204, 649 tons behind the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport,Kenya with the highest exports at 363,204 tons, while Cairo international Airport, Egypt had 333, 536 tons and Oliver Reginald International Airport South Africa with 304, 018 and Addis Ababa Bole International Airport with 226, 417.
He made this known in his presentation: Repositioning Cargo Operations through Development of Agriculture and Natural resources in Nigeria at the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria Aviation Conference (FNAC) 2023 where he broke down some of the obstacles to free flowing export.
According to Mr. Uko, Nigeria has ranked quite high in the world agricultural commodities produce thriving products like yam, ginger, cocoa beans, pineapple, onions,chilli peppers, groundnuts among others.
He however said obstacles including non compliance of farmers to internationally and domestically accepted standards, lack of certification, inability to Trace (Traceability), lack of access to international markets; lack of knowledge on global requirements as well as governments’ bureaucracy were cited.
Others include, high cost of preservation and packaging to global standard, poor logistics, insecurity, weakness of supervision, poor airport infrastructure, lack of government support, mindset/attitudes, lack of skilled manpower, taxes and charges and funding.
According to him, Nigeria is already a leader in most Agricultural produces,and should target improvement in Agricultural practices, invest in solving the huge logistic problems of
Agricultural produces as well as enhance certification of farms and operators in the value chain.
In addition, the nation must insist on traceability of all exportable produce, tackle the mayhem at the export cargo terminals and must upgrade packaging of all exports as well as incentivize the production of high value export crops and mitigate identified procedural and regulatory obstacles.
He stressed that all agricultural exports from Nigeria must start from a farm certified by the Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Services (NAQS) or a global GAP registered farm through a secured cargo pathway.