In a bid to strengthen its position as a major player in the global agricultural export market, Nigeria has unveiled an ambitious plan to significantly increase its agri-produce exports and generate substantial revenue. The West African nation is aiming to surpass Kenya, which currently holds the top spot for agricultural exports in Africa. Nigeria’s goal is to export over 600,000 tons of agricultural products annually by the year 2026, with an estimated revenue projection of around $10 billion per annum.

Comparing this target to Kenya’s recent accomplishments highlights the scale of Nigeria’s aspirations. In 2021, Kenya managed to export over 300,000 tons of coffee, tea, cut flowers, and vegetables, amounting to an impressive $6.75 billion in revenue. However, Nigeria is determined to seize the lead by tapping into its abundant agricultural resources and diversifying its exports.

To facilitate the realization of this ambitious goal, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has taken a proactive approach. The establishment of the Aviacargo Committee by FAAN signals the government’s commitment to identifying and overcoming the challenges hindering Nigeria’s agricultural exports. This committee has been tasked with addressing impediments and devising strategies to boost the volume and acceptance of Nigerian agri-produce on the global stage.

The committee’s efforts have shed light on Nigeria’s agricultural strengths. The country boasts of substantial production of key crops such as yam, cassava, cocoa, groundnuts (peanuts), rubber, palm oil, and taro. Notably, Nigeria holds the distinction of being the world’s largest producer of taro, cowpeas, and sorghum. Despite these strengths, current exports stand at over 200,000 tons, indicating significant untapped potential.

Ikechi Uko

One of the primary challenges facing Nigeria’s agricultural exports is the lack of standardization and certification. While there is a high demand for Nigerian agricultural products, the absence of internationally recognized standards has limited their acceptance in global markets. Recognizing this, the AviaCargo Committee is striving to elevate the quality and certification processes of Nigerian agri-produce to meet the stringent requirements of targeted international markets.

Ambassador Ikechi Uko, Chairman of the AviaCargo Committee, emphasized the multifaceted nature of the challenge. He highlighted the need to address issues related to traceability, certification, and logistics. The movement of produce from farms to airports, certification processes, and logistics coordination all play crucial roles in determining the success of Nigeria’s agricultural export endeavors.

Uko expressed confidence that by addressing these challenges and streamlining processes, Nigeria could become the number one exporter of agricultural produce from Africa within two and a half years. He drew attention to Kenya’s impressive capacity for exports and stressed that Nigeria must outpace its competitors to secure the top position.

The road to achieving this goal involves collaboration between various stakeholders, including government agencies, exporters, and producers. The AviaCargo Committee is working to simplify processes at airports and facilitate seamless integration across the value chain. The committee’s forthcoming report is expected to outline a comprehensive roadmap that will guide the nation toward achieving its ambitious targets.

Critical to this effort is the establishment of reliable testing laboratories. Ambassador Uko emphasized that ensuring the quality and safety of exported products though thorough testing is essential. By certifying that Nigeria’s agricultural products meet international standards, the nation can gain the trust of global consumers and open up new avenues for export.

As Nigeria charts its course toward becoming a powerhouse in agricultural exports, the AviaCargo Committee’s initiatives and the government’s commitment to streamlining processes offer promising prospects. With dedication, collaboration, and a focus on quality, Nigeria’s agricultural sector is poised to contribute significantly to the nation’s economy and global trade landscape.

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