exporters’ multiple challenges in Nigeria
Gloria Umukotete, national team leader, Women Chamber of Commerce, Agriculture, Mines and Industry (WCCI) has lamented that lack of access to finance, unavailability of organic raw materials and lack of scientific laboratories are major challenges plaguing non-oil exporters in the country.
She said that the challenges have continued to negatively affect their businesses as well as the growth and development of the entire Non-oil sector.
She called on the federal government to move beyond lip-service and address the challenges in the sector so as to lighten the burdens of the exporters.
Umukotete who spoke in an exclusive interview with BusinessDay in Asaba, explained that most people who desired to be exporters in the country don’t have the financial muzzle to venture into the business and so need to be encouraged with funds.
While calling for action in this direction, she said, “Whatever we do, it must be a compulsory act”, even as she urged commercial banks in the country to make deliberate attempt to encourage exporters instead of always giving stringent conditions that hinder access to funds.
Let financial institutions and commercial banks make Nigeria great by partnering with exporters so that in the end, we will bring back dollar earnings to Nigeria, she said.
They (the banks) could make efforts by choosing 1,000 people that are registered with Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) as exporters, give them N5 million (loan) each for their export businesses and see what will come out of it”, she added.
She said that if products from the country must meet international standard, it must start from farming. That is one of the reasons why I am harping on agriculture because once you get the farming sector right, definitely, our processed products would come out fine internationally, she said.
Umukotete observed that some of the companies that have gone far with processed products either have their farms or that they source their products from the right sources.
She thus appealed to the federal and state governments to help in making organic fertilizers available and affordable for farming so that residues from inorganic fertilizers would not be detected in the finished products that are being exported.
Umukotete said that the issue of scientific laboratories is one that should be taken seriously by the government.
“When we are talking about export, it means we have to be thorough and perfect in our production process. And those are the duties of the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and the Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON).
“We need a One-Stop-Shop where NAFDAC, SON, Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Services, ( NAQS), Nigerian Customs Services representatives would be there in the same premises, so that they are accessed under one roof.
She said facilities must be put in place to make things easier for the exporters.
“We need the government to establish a standard laboratory because as it is now, lab tests are one of the issues our local producers have. For instance, if you’re producing in Ughelli (Delta State), you need to take your samples to Benin (Edo State) for testing. It’s so rigorous. We know scientists have a big role to play.
“Personally, as a scientist, I want to appeal to the banks and financial institutions and government to make deliberate attempt to establish international standard laboratories that we can use to process our goods and oil and gas products because whatever products that you process – whether oil and gas, medicine, food,
cosmetics etc, must undergo proper laboratory tests to be certified fit for consumption or use, she concluded.