The Minister of Agriculture recently said that the Youth should have their Industrial Training (IT) as farmers before they can consider political positions and to be fair, that is a good bargain. Considering that the President has said many times, that agriculture is the future, the country has to take his word for it’s worth right? Going forward, to make the best out of agriculture, the youth needs to commercialize and export. But is exportation easy in Nigeria?
A chat with Shehu, a banker who quit his job to farm and export ginger in Kaduna showed some details worth sharing.
Shehu’s most significant challenge while trying to export his farm produce (ginger), was the high cost of export in Nigeria. Usually, he would prefer to use the cargo airport at Abuja since he felt he needed more experience to use the port at Apapa. Here is the problem. Anyone exporting from Abuja in Nigeria has to go through Lagos, then back to Abujain order to obtain the Clean Certificate of Inspection (CCI). For now, Cobalt Services which is a pre-shipment inspection agent for the Nigerian Export Supervision Scheme only works from Lagos. For people who do not know how bureaucracy dampens the spirit of exporters, here is one. Now Shehu instead of moving his products directly to Abuja and then to China (world’s no. 1 importer of ginger), has to move them to Lagos and then back to Abuja, before exporting to China. Cost of export almost doubles. Too bad for Shehu. Too bad for Nigeria.
He was about to weather it when he discovered that Ghana charges $2 to export a kg of farm produce against Nigeria’s $7. Shehu did not believe his fortune, he quickly checks the internet and sees a speech here by Chairman of Airfreight Stakeholders Forum (ASF), Mr. Sunday Akintunde, confirming that Ghana charges $2 for a kg of export against Nigeria’s $7 per kg. Shehu is for profit, and so, he immediately takes a decision to move his product to Ghana and in turn, fly to China, his export destination. If you were Shehu, wouldn’t you prefer a cheaper country of low bureaucracy than Nigeria?
The story of Shehu is a real-life simplified version of what exporters face in Nigeria (the names have been changed). It does no one any good to push the youth into agriculture without adequate infrastructure and conducive policies. Why would the only point of inspection be in Lagos, when the food basket of the nation is the northern part of Nigeria? It’s not logical. Why would Nigeria charge higher than Ghana while at the same time, claim it encourages export? All of these are questions seeking answers in the Nigeria agro-export system, and until these questions are answered, Nigeria will continue to lose its export market to Ghana and the Benin Republic. Oh, guess what? Tema Port in Ghana processes more cargo than all the ports in Nigeria and people like Shehu are the main reason for that.