• Saturday, May 18, 2024
businessday logo


Market access, packaging, finance, key to export competitiveness – experts

Diversifying the Nigerian economy away from oil would require paying more attention to making agriculture and value-adding manufacturing export more competitive.

Good market penetration and effective packaging on the part of the exporter, as well as adequate financing from  banks and government would be key to achieving this, stakeholders at the BusinessDay-organised seminar entitled, ‘Agric Transformation Agenda: The Role of Non-oil Export in Economic Diversification,’ have said.

Fidel Anyanna, programme director, Dalehan Limited, who also doubles as CEO, Horeb Safety & Security Services Limited, said export financing needs could be met through advance payment for overseas buyers, internally generated funds, credit from banks to other financial institutions, as well as  credit provided by the government in the buyer country.

Anyanna added that Nigerian banks’ risk-averse behaviour often resulted in small scale firms being burdened with high requirements that constrained their access to loans and financial services.

He observed that exporters needed to know that banks often looked for collateral or security for proposed lending, as well as credit worthiness and capacity of the buyer to execute the orders within the stipulated delivery schedules.

He listed financial viability of the export contract, status of the buyer’s country, along with political and economic conditions in the buyer’s contract and compliance with export trade control and exchange control regulations in force, among prospect indicators.

He said while there should be adequate infrastructure and institutional support (incentives) from the government, intending exporters should increase their access to market information and garner good export training to develop capacity to cope with the strenuous demands of the international market.

“There is the need for exporters to train on packaging and standards. The international market is based on standards, not sentiment.  When you package a product so well, even someone who does not want to buy can be forced to. Again, most farmers produce without a focus as to where the products are going,” he stressed.

Joseph Idiong, director-general, Association of Nigerian Exporters, said his group had thought it wise to propagate export financing, adding that farmers must be conscious of the fact that producing for export required different levels of technology, raw materials and training.

Ivana Osagie, managing director/ CEO, Notore Seeds, pointed out that the problems facing the agric export sector could be mitigated by clustering small-scale farmers and linking them up with large-scale players, to bring them to an understanding of key processes and procedures.

According to her, agriculture must be understood as a science, rather than an art, as people from research institutions or academic backgrounds needed to be instructed on practical agricultural processes, while more should be done to mechanise agriculture, encourage internal effectiveness and economies of scale.

She further observed that Nigerian banks must think of innovative ways of encouraging financing as it is done in other climes such as the United Kingdom and other countries in Europe.

“By using the right fertilizer, applying the best practices and approaches, one metric ton can be increased to the value of 10 metric tons,” she said.

Frank Aigbogun, publisher/CEO, BusinessDay,said though people often got frustrated with the way things were done in the country, they must begin to realise that things were gradually changing, even though some might consider the changes slow and halting.

He added that the likes of Notore and the Bank of Agriculture, which were doing a lot to diversify the Nigerian economy and increase non-oil exports should be emulated by other institutions.