Business a.m.

No export for Nigerian vegetables

- Stories by Onome Amuge

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.

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