No export for Nigerian vegetables
The International Trade Centre (ITC), in a recent report, disclosed that Nigeria’s export of edible vegetables remains vastly...
The International Trade Centre (ITC), in a recent report, disclosed that Nigeria’s export of edible vegetables remains vastly unexploited, noting that unlike other agricultural exports such as cocoa, rubber, cashew, sesame and other agro-commodities which have been exported for decades, the local vegetable export market is yet to achieve relevant penetration in the world market. According to ITC, edible vegetables, tuber and roots exports from Nigeria constitute only three per cent of global imports, making sensitization of fruit and vegetable farmers on how to cultivate, package and store their produce for exports a matter of urgency to prevent worse results.
The report further noted that in 2020, India emerged the largest importer of Nigeria’s edible vegetables as the world’s second most populous country imported 47 .91 per cent of edible vegetables, tuber and roots.
This was followed by United States’ imports of 13.17 per cent, United Arab Emirates (UAE) imported 5.91 per cent, while the United Kingdom share of vegetables imports from Nigeria stood at. In furtherance, Turkey, Sri Lanka and the Netherlands’s import stood at 4.97 per cent, 1. 31 per cent and 0.09 per cent respectively. However, there was no record of vegetable imports from Chile, China, Cuba, Denmark, Ethiopia, France and Indonesia, further indicating a decline in Nigeria’s vegetable export.
Commenting on the decline, the Agricultural Fresh Produce Growers and Exporters Association of Nigeria
(AFPGEAN), Nigeria loses between 55 per cent and 72 per cent of its cultivated fresh produce (fruits and vegetables) before it can be consumed, much less exported.
Data from the Food and Agriculture (FAO) vegetable market analysis showed that the global vegetable market revenue amounted to $1.2 billion in 2019, and is likely to continue its growth in the immediate term as the world gears towards the post-covid19 period.
Following rising demands of fruits and vegetables in the European market,the Italian Trade Agency (ITA), a governmental agency committed to boosting trade relations between Italian companies and other countries, said Nigerian exporters have opportunities to penetrate the European market with vegetables and other perishables if the right measures are being implemented.
During the launch of the E-Lab Innova training, an educational training programme for the Nigerian agri-food sector facilitated by ITA, Enrico Turino, International and Comparative Education (ICE) Faculty Trainer, noted that the European market is demanding for more fruits and vegetables. He however averred that if farmers do not produce the right variety of vegetable, they cannot enter the market.
According to him, farmers need to be well informed of developments in supermarkets and wholesale markets, as well as technology producers in Europe, especially Italy, as this source of information is important for the Nigerian vegetable producers. He also urged producers and exporters to get in touch with importers in Europe in order to have clear information about what they need, type and variety of produce.
On his part, Akin Sawyerr, executive secretary, Agricultural Fresh Produce Growers and Exporters Association of Nigeria, attributed lack of adequate preservation facilities for the decline in vegetable export. Sawyerr pointed out that In order to preserve vegetable lifespan, they require refrigerated conditions soon after harvest but in Nigeria, very little is done in the way of processing and preserving them.
“There is no storage in refrigerated conditions due to inconsistent power supply and the inefficient transportation system makes speedy movement of fruits and vegetables from farms to supermarkets, airports and seaports, difficult,” he added.
Sawyerr noted that Just as Malaysia took lessons on how to develop its oil palm sector decades ago, there is also no harm in soliciting the help of countries who have made substantial achievements such as Kenya, in strengthening Nigeria’s fruit, and vegetable market.
He also enjoined financial institutions to provide loans to finance farmers’ acquisition of postharvest technologies, using anchor buyers’ sourcing commitments as collateral. According to him, Nigeria runs the risk of losing the market to upcoming competitors such as Tanzania if drastic measures are not taken towards improving the vegetable sector.
Michael Omodara, principal research officer, Nigerian Stored Products Research Institute (NSPRI), Ilorin, said challenges such as poor packaging and insufficient information on export requirements have hindered efficient processing and supply of vegetables. He harped on the implementation of international food standards, codes of practice, guidelines and recommendations developed by the Codes Alimentarius Commission (CAC) to ensure fair practices and acceptance in the global food trade.
Abdullhameed Aliyu, managing director of Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) recommended the urgent need to tackle the ineffective supply chain mechanism and transport system, through the creation of commodity routes that link states and have minimal interference. This, he said, would drastically result in an improvement in the vegetable export sector.