… says Nigeria has capacity of $250bn revenue per annum on only agro export commodities
… blame government agencies for failure
The inability of Nigeria to match its exports to markets especially in the areas of documentation and certifications requirements has been fingered as one of the primary failures of the export process in Nigeria.
The Managing Director/CEO of ABX World, Capt. John Okakpu, speaking on the topic ‘Matching Exports to Markets,’ the recent aviation and cargo conference (CHINET 21) exporters in Nigeria continue to rely on our own bogus documentation and certifications standards which are mostly not recognised anywhere in the world.
He pointed out that though the government has spent a huge chunk of resources on agro export, the country is almost at the brink of economic collapse as a result of serial failures by the government agencies saddled with the responsibility of implementing the process.
He also fingered government fees, taxes and high cost of aircraft maintenance as factors hampering the growth of export in the country, equally stressing that the business of export should be fully private sector driven.
Okakpu said the first step in engaging in export is to identify, properly analyse and conform with the requirements of the proposed importing countries.
“Thus, the exporter has to provide the commodities needed, their satisfactions and documentations. Then a seamless export can be carried out.
“It has been severally identified by economic experts that agro export is the surest and fastest way to shore up increase in forex inflows and as such our government has spent a huge chunk of resources to initiate this process, but today, we are almost at the brink of economic collapse as a result of serial failures by the government agencies that have been mandated and economically empowered to drive the process.,” he explained.
The CEO added that due to the continuous dwindling revenue accrued from crude oil sales and the failure to increase our export activities, especially agro export activities “our Naira is continuously degenerating into worthlessness.”
“Conversely, Nigeria with a proper adherence to export market requirements has the innate capacity to rake in $250 billion per annum on only agro export commodities.
“The only way to resolve this anomaly is to strictly comply with the primary export markets requirements which are to provide the following:
“1) GAP certificate for the agro produces to be exported
“2) Phyto Sanitary/ Vetinary Certificates
“3) Custom Certification,” he stated.
According to him, the major obstacle preventing Nigerian exporters from having a seamless export experience are, GAP Certifications and our exit points choked up with multiple/multiplication of agencies and too many MDAs (relevant and irrelevant) positioning themselves to drive agro export!
Okakpu insisted that agro export programme is 100 per cent private sector driven and will forever remain so, noting that for almost five decades; Nigeria has had about five different policies on agro programme and each of them dies immediately that regime is over.
“So what does that tell you, PRIVATE SECTOR is the answer and public sector to be the ENABLER,” he averred.
Continuing, he said that another critical part and one of the most important aspect part of the country’s agro export woes is government fees and taxes which he said was about 90 per cent higher than our nearest competitor.
“So in most case it is cheaper for most freighter aircraft to depart from Nigeria empty than carry cargo,” he said.
“Similarly, we all know that the foreign exchange rates are going up every day and all aircraft spare parts are imported and most of their maintenance [A, B, C, D (heavy), hot section, 4800 hrs, etc. checks] are done abroad.
“This eats into their revenue, besides due to the COVID-19 pandemic income generation by airlines have drastically reduced living them barely surviving to stay afloat. We import almost everything for aircraft operations including fuel.
“Then we are now looking at heavy government fees/taxes and later will turn around expecting our agro products to be competitive in the world market, not possible.
“For example, 2kg of pineapple from Costa Rica about 12 hours flight to London is £0.95 – £1.10 in most supermarkets.
“2kg of pineapple from Nigeria about six hours flight to the same London, logistics cost, I mean logistics cost alone is about £1.75 without production. Now tell me how we are going to compete,” he explained.
Okakpu further pointed out that almost all Nigerian farmers are not GAP certified neither do they understand what it is.
He therefore called government to jettison wasting its resources on ventures that would not yield any results in agro export activities and invest in sponsoring the GAP certifications of major known Nigerian farmers who will eventually form the nucleus of GAP certified farmers that will be able “to establish our own GAP standards as in the case of many advanced countries, Ghana, Kenya and others.
“This process has a multiplier effect on the farmers’ ability to have assured off -takers, prompt repayment of loans taken, increased farm yield per hectare, increased profitability and little or no post harvest losses,” Okakpu advised.
He corrected the erroneous belief by some people that proper packaging or a trade and bilateral agreement between two countries guarantees free flow of agro -products.
Yes, such agreements open the doors to free trade between countries for mutual benefits. But there’s a caveat here that ensures that advanced countries will only accept agro products that are traceable with internationally recognised Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) Certifications/Traceability.
“A responsible country wouldn’t because of trade agreements or beautiful packaging allow poison or sub-standard products into its country to kill its citizens.
“Without adhering to this process, we will continue beating around the bush and achieve virtually nothing!” the expert stated.