To boost the export of fruits, vegetables and flowers, the Federal Government plans to train farmers to tap into the huge opportunity in perishables export. This was disclosed in a press statement by Olukayode Oyeleye, media assistant to the minister of agriculture, at Akinwumi Adesina’s, minister of agriculture and rural development, meeting with stakeholders in Brussels, Belgium recently.
Adesina said export cargo planes fly out of Nigeria empty, yet opportunities abound to make fortune through flowers, fruits and vegetables export, saying “for Nigeria, the time has come to stop wasting such opportunities and begin to tap into the business prospects at home and abroad.”
The planned training might be in collaboration with DHL Aviation, as Akin Sawyerr of DHL Aviation underscored the significance of the meeting, given the direction of the ministry of agriculture and Nigeria in horticulture work with DHL Aviation on market-driven approach to get Nigeria on the global map in horticulture.
Adesina recalled that there had been an earlier effort Sawyerr was championing in Nigeria, saying “horticulture is important to us. We are closer to Europe than Kenya or Ethiopia; which has implication for us in terms of opportunities for entering the European market.”
According to him, “only 40 percent of Nigerian agricultural land is utilised, and this portion is utilised sub-optimally. We have cheap labour, great sunshine. We have opportunities for diversifying into other high-value crops,” noting that “DHL planes come to Nigeria and leave empty.”
To take advantage of these opportunities, the minister promised to put in place what was necessary. “We are committed to giving public sector support for organising farmers,” he said, adding that “horticultural value chain for domestic market is already developed. Now, we are looking at foreign market.”
He promised government’s support for training of farmers, noting that government will work with experts “in getting Nigeria farmers certified to enter into the export market.”
Jumoke Kassim, chief executive, Naturescape Limited, a horticulturist, commended the planned support to train fruits, vegetables and flowers producers to access the export market. She said continuous infrastructure support would however be needed as flowers and vegetables, and some fruits need a controlled environment to thrive as natural weather conditions could lead to yield failure and inability to meet demand as agreed in the international market, where breech of agreement was