Export Opportunities For Organic, Ethnic Produce
THE remittances by 20million Nigerians, as released by the Federal Ministry of Finance for the first half of 2014, is put at $10.4billion, almost half of what came in 2013 ($20.77billion). The source of the fund came from Nigerians living in different countries of the world. This background affords the agribusiness person, who is focused in producing for the organic and ethnic market that services Nigerians and some other foreign nationals the opportunity to assess the potential market for his produce or value-added agricultural products.
With a large concentration of people of Nigerian descent living in the UK and United States, South Africa and others living in Cameroun, Ghana, Gabon, Congo DRC, etc., the know-how of the exporting these items becomes necessary.
There are several items on demand by these diasporans, but the popular agro-products include Ugu (telafaris occidentalis) also known as fluted pumpkin leaves), Scent leaf (basil, efirin (Yoruba) and Nchanwu (Igbo)), bitter leaf, Ukazi leaf and tuber such as yam and potato.
Dr. (Mrs.) Adenike Olufolaji, Executive Director, Nigerian Horticultural Research Institute (NIHORT), in a paper presentation, listed the following as some of the crops earmarked for export to EU: Okra, Eggplant, Pepper, Ugu/Leafy greens, Plantain, Pawpaw, Ogbono, Banana, Mango and spices such as Ginger, Garlic, Nutmeg, Scent leaf, Peppermint leaf and Curry leaf among others.
Focus has been on Nigeria by the EU as a good source of produce for six items namely Green Peas, Okra, Pineapple, Eggplant, Banana and Ornamentals according to the document presented by NIHORT.
Though the entrants into this business are not many, the growing number of Nigerians outside the nation’s shores is rising rapidly and so are their demands for both organic and ethnic food produce. Projections by the Nigerian Agribusiness Group, a non-governmental body that seeks for better food security through private sector investment, show that the outlook for agricultural sector looks bright if the right policies are pursued. This is especially so now that diversifying the economy is on the front burner in the face of dwindling oil prices globally.
THE leaf is popular in the Southeast and Southsouth of the country. It serves as delicacy in a number of dishes like Nkwobi, a mix of cow leg and ox-tails or goat meat prepared for special in-between meal indulgence. It is also getting trendy in the diet choice of urban areas, where there is conglomeration of people of different tribes, including the traditional consumers.
Same leaf is also called Afang by the Ibibios and Efiks, and used for full African soups for pounded yam, corn meal, eba and the like. With another ingredient, sliced Ugba (partially fermented oil bean seed), it is also deployed in the preparation of widely cherished dish, also called Ugba.
The leaf, aside the usual nutrients from green leaves, is reputed for its rich dietary fibre that helps digestion and enhance health. It is largely grown under organic condition since it is mostly harvested from the wild. Trade experts say profit of 300-400 per cent is possible when it is exported.
FOR yam, records show that over 74 metric tons of yam worth about 30,000pounds sterling changed hands in 2010 in exports to the UK. This tuber and vegetable can also be processed to yield yam flour for preparation of local diets.
A number of local processing SMEs are processing yam to various products that are certified by NAFDAC, thus making it easier for exporters to trade in them like in the case of Instant Pounded Yam. Pre-shipment inspection at the ports has been made easier by the standards laid down by various agencies.
THIS vegetable is steadily rising in commercial profile aside its rich medicinal value, with the ability to build up the red blood cells rapidly. In some farms in Lagos and southwest area, Agric Quarantine officers help supervise the growing of the crop to ensure conformity with standards as it passes the NAHCO checks and scanners during weekly shipment to the EU nations.
In the course of doing this report, there are shipments by air on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays to Europe and several women are pushing strongly on this front. However, one of them, Frijay Consult in Iju, Lagos, says it is proper to do good survey to secure reliable buyers overseas, while following the procedures not to fall foul of the law.
For instance, Dr. Mike Nwaneri, a former Coordinating Director of Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service, a department in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) revealed the e-platform that assists exporters comply with oversea requirements.
Agricultural quarantine officers are usually available to give the necessary supervision from planting to harvest and export including laboratory inspection of fresh produce to ensure phytosanitary standards that meet international expectation to avoid rejection.
Generally, agricultural produce are goods representing the largest percentage of FMCG (fast moving consuming goods), but they will deteriorate over a given time period if exposed to extreme temperatures (heat or cold), humidity, expanded time or other environmental conditions.
Like in any production practice, there is need to optimise cool chain and packaging to avoid loss of shelf-life to increase sales margin, also insuring year-round production through different products.
Fruits and vegetables including live cut flowers and plants require specific conditioning/monitoring because consumers pay more attention to quality, safety, packaging, etc. This is where Nigerian exporters are yet to utilize the opportunities and facilities available in cargo aviation at major airports.
In a seminar on Fresh Produce Export, a DHL official revealed the fact that most times, international cargo carriers leave Nigeria virtually empty after coming in laden with goods. The cargo planes, he noted are usually well equipped to handle goods that require refrigeration and controlled atmospheric conditions to get them in good quality to consumers abroad.
To generate the market for export, there is need to identify the need of the consumer, get certification done properly in line with Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Services to stay in line with legal requirements of destination countries.