A shrill call has gone out to the Federal Government of Nigeria to emulate Ethiopia and boost produce export by making the Nigeria Commodity Exchange (NCX) viable and functional.
A trade and economic expert, Emeka Unachukwu, who is an international trade expert, made the appeal at a symposium to mark the highlight of the export promotion week in Port Harcourt.
The one-time president of the Port Harcourt Chamber of Commerce (PHCCIMA) said Ethiopia was like Nigeria but they did something. “They set up Commodity Exchange. All produce for export ended there and they handled the rest to meet international standards,” he said.
He said exporters will sell only to the Commodity Exchange which will do the rest because they would have labs for testing, do packaging, standards, among others.
“This will stimulate agric sector and the minerals sector.”
He went on to say that things can only change if private sector is motivated fully to take over. “Ethiopia was struggling but when they implemented this, their agro products export shot up; sesame seed went from 0.2 to 394 per cent; coffee did the same.”
Unachukwu, who is also an engineer, said Nigeria spends hugely into agric but the output is still poor, forcing Nigeria to keep importing food and agro-produce totaling N236 trillion between 2014 and 202.
With data and graphics, the expert said Nigeria invests about $5.8Bn but that Egypt harvests 7.5 per hectare whereas Nigeria harvests a mere 1.6 per hectare.
“The difference is because of research and technology into their agric practice. Malaysia funds agric eight times above Nigeria. Indonesia is 50 times more than Nigeria in tech investment.
“These countries have moved away from seasons. Technology has made their crops to produce all year round. Post harvest loss in Nigeria is heavy, over N50Bn per year.”
He almost drew out tears from participants when he showed how resources are wasting in Nigeria. “Nigeria’s wealth is diversity in resources. Nigeria has everything. It is one of few countries that have everything: Tourism, entertainment, creative industry, etc.
“Afro beat is wanted worldwide. Senegal does festival to promote their music industry. Portugal makes money from our musicians because their events and festivals are fully booked but Nigerians are the major performers.”
He added that Nigeria has human resources: 200m market is huge, but we should not use it to sell other peoples products
Lagos is start-up capital of Africa. Innovative ideas abound but nobody to help them. Outsiders come to steal our people. There are no deliberate platforms to groom anything.’
Unachukwu said Nigerians must reverse this trend and called for policy reversal: “Ensure strategies to implement them successfully. Capital for SMEs must be guaranteed. Training to handle the implementation is key. Corruption must be tackled to allow government funds to reach to targeted producers. Wrong people access government benefits in NIRSAL loans.
“Environmental degradation is huge; lack of good labs hampers export, and poor investment promotion incentives. It is faster to import than to export. There is a policy implementation deficit in export. There is need to re-jig and make export attractive and profitable. Poor infrastructure: Railways, power, etc. are killing export.”
He said looting in the agric sector is higher than in oil.