Federal government targets 22 non-oil commodities for export promotion

No fewer than 22 non-oil strategic products have been penciled in the new export promotion programme of the Federal Government. The initiative is part of the zero-oil plan currently implemented by the Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC), in collaboration with the private sector, and estimated to worth over $150 billion in annual export value at full capacity.

Among the products are palm oil, cashew, cocoa, soya beans, rubber, rice, petrochemical, leather, ginger, cotton and Shea butter, tomato, banana and plantain, cassava, cowpeas, and spices.

Executive Director, NEPC, Olusegun Awolowo, during a promotional meeting with Nigeria Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO), Free On Board (FOB) Global Logistics Limited, and technical partners from Spain, India, Dubai, and South Africa, in Lagos, yesterday, said the strategic products were in line with the FGs industrialization plan to wean the national revenue off oil receipts.

Awolowo said notwithstanding the constraints of processing the products to exportable standards, there was huge potential for Nigerian agro-products worldwide and vast revenue to make from the export value.

He noted that cashew, with an export value of $4.5billion/year, has been scaled up from 110,000 metric tonnes (MT) to 300,000MT, with more than half going to Vietnam. But more is still needed.

Cocoa is worth $80 billion in the global market a year. Although Ghana already does 1 million, and Cote d’Ivoire three million, Nigeria is miles behind with less than 300,000 MT/year.

He added that petrochemical is also worth $150billion yearly, but Nigeria is unable to benefit from the largesse because it is not refining locally.

Awolowo hinted that the informal export sector in West Africa from Nigeria could generate $41 billion yearly, and that with the coming of the single African market (AfCTA), those products being exported from Nigeria informally would be formalized – going to all parts of Africa and will provide a larger market.

There is much we can take through cargo and particularly, we are looking at agricultural products that can arrive in Europe the next day fresh. That is the crux of this venture.

For our zero oil plans, we have identified 22 products Nigeria can sell. The aim is to promote Nigerian goods and find a market to sell them, and our ‘one state one product’ plan is key to this. It means that each state of the country will give us at least one product that we can market, package and export

“The country is blessed and yet we are still fixated on oil. We must put more money into non-oil exports. We spend millions of dollars drilling for oil, and most times we come up with naught, but we do not invest in the non-oil sector,” he said.

Agreeing with the export potential, cargo logistics giants, Free on Board (FOB) Global Logistics, will be partnering with NEPC, while its Chief Executive, Jimi Adebakin, charged the government to encourage low-income exporters to drive the trade.

Adebakin urged Nigerians to go into the export of agricultural products, to benefit from the structure on the ground and earn revenue.

“We are creating warehouses in all major cities of the world. We have 170 technical partners in 170 countries and warehouses in 3,700 cities of the world. So, what we are saying is bring your products that are made by you, labeled by you, take advantage of our freight services, and make a profit. The days of people saying ‘I’m unemployed in Nigeria should be over.

“If we put the same energy we put in importation and exportation, nobody can touch us. There is a new possibility daily. We move 20 tonnes in cargo but with the right awareness, we ought to be moving 100 tonnes and more,” Adebakin said.

Earlier, the Group Chief Executive Officer, NAHCO Aviance, Olatokunbo Fagbemi, urged the NEPC to encourage Nigerians to standardize and export agricultural products, adding that there was so much to benefit from them.

According to her, for agricultural products to be accepted abroad, they must not only be well-processed, but must also be well-packaged and labeled.

She decried that some Nigeria agricultural products had to be destroyed because they were not well-packed by the exporters, adding that to avoid their rejection abroad, NAHCO was working with the Ministry of Agriculture to support export and its growth.

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