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Cocoa Export Business In Nigeria Hits $900m
Business News (Export) – The profile of Nigeriaâ€™s cocoa Export Business sustained its rising trend last year, as the nation earned $900 million (N142 billion), against $882.9 million realised in the previous year, from the commodityâ€™s trade in the global market.
However, the rising cases of rice smuggling into the country may have compromised the nationâ€™s quest for self sufficiency in the commodityâ€™s production, as N32 billion revenue was lost to the activities of smugglers last year.
Minister of Trade and Investment, Olusegun Aganga gave the export figures of cocoa during a one-day national workshop on capacity building in Abuja, at the weekend.
The minister said beside the fact that cocoa was the second largest foreign exchange earner after crude oil, the industry generates over two million jobs directly and indirectly along its value chain.
He noted that as the market for cocoa increases at an average of three per cent a year while the nationâ€™s export of the commodity has equally been growing at an average of 40 per cent yearly and a cumulative of 280 per cent which represents $215m in 2006 to $822.8m in 2010.
Aganga said given the fact that the local consumption of cocoa is barely three per cent, while the bulk of what is produced is exported, it is imperative for the country not only to increase its yield but most importantly ensure its acceptance in the international market by total compliance to the international standard, by minimising the harmful effect of pesticide residues in the crop, which is far becoming a health issue around the globe.
The Minister, who was represented by the Director, Industrial Development, Olakunle Sogbola, reiterated that beside encouraging Nigerians to increase their consumption of the product, effort is geared towards adding value to export drive in order to reduce the export of raw cocoa and ensure stable and improved income for farmers.
His words: â€œAs a major producer, our primary goal is to secure a sustainable market for our cocoa and cocoa products. To achieve this desire, the quality of our cocoa and cocoa products is of paramount importance. Along this is our effort to protect food safety and the threats of pesticides and contaminants to human health.â€
He added that concerns had been raised on safety of cocoa and its products consumed especially in developed countries with regards to the use of agro-chemicals in the production, storage and processing of cocoa. This he said informed the need for all stakeholders in the sector to ensure that cocoa produced in Nigeria is safe for consumption anywhere in the world.
The executive director of International Cocoa Organization (ICCO) Jean-Marc Anga said that users of cocoa products have continually raised issues relating to quality, traceability and integrity of the beans along the supply chain.
Other issues raised, he said, include food safety concern, environmental concerns and social ethics. The social and economic welfare of the cocoa farmers and in general, the sustainability of cocoa production.
These concerns, he said, brought about a World Cocoa Conference in Abidjan, Cote dâ€™Ivoire organized by the ICCO in 2012. The outcome of the conference tagged Global Cocoa Agenda and Abidjan Cocoa Declaration has been ratified and signed by 31 major stakeholders in the cocoa sector, while Nigeria, which is the worldâ€™s fourth largest producer and exporter, is yet to sign the documents.
Meanwhile, the Rice Millers, Importers and Distributors Association of Nigeria (RiMIDAN) has joined forces with the Nigeria Customs Service in combating smuggling activities in the country.
Specifically, the association at the weekend, presented 150-patrol trucks worth over N600 milion to the Customs service at a ceremony in Abuja.
Making the donation on behalf of the association, its national president, Tunji Owoeye, said the donation was done to appreciate the Federal Governmentâ€™s efforts to boost food production on the one hand and the rice sector particularly.
He said while RiMIDAN was in full support of such efforts, that it was however worried by the activities of smugglers who keep flooding the country with imported rice using the border flanks of the country, especially Benin Republic.
He explained: â€œRice occupies an important place being the staple food of Nigerians. According to government statistics, yearly consumption of rice is about 5.5million tonnes. It is also a known fact that local production accounts for about 1.8million tonnes, thus necessitating the need for importation to bridge the gap. Unfortunately, 50 per cent of these imports are smuggled into the countryâ€.
The RiMIDAN president said it was worrisome that the persons behind the smuggling business are not only unrelenting, but are daily intensifying and refining their activities thereby undermining governmentâ€™s policies and programmes directed at boosting local food production.
He said: â€œWhat is more disheartening is the fact that these smugglers connive with some bad elements in our security services to perpetrate their illicit acts. As an association and also as stakeholders in the Nigerian economy, this is of great concern to us.
â€œNo sector or professional group which makes as much commitment as we have enunciated above would keep quiet and not fight with determination for the survival of this critical sector of the Nigerian economy. Incidentally and in truth, these commitments and potentials of the rice sector are being daily put at risk by the activities of these smugglers and their collaboratorsâ€.
Owoeye said the problem of smuggling is greatly affecting the food security plans of the Federal Government as well as the economic agenda of the Federal Government.
â€œWhen you bring it closer to the rice sector (which is where we operate), the attention is no less emphatic; to the extent that the Federal Governmentâ€™s investment aimed at boosting rice processing for example, now runs into billions of naira. In like manner, support to operators in the rice sector has increased. All these go to underscore the priority that the Federal Government puts on the agricultural sector with regard to self sufficiency in food productionâ€.
He said the association was using the opportunity to again draw the attention of the Federal Government to the fact that the quantum of rice being smuggled through our land borders from the Republic of Benin is increasing on a daily basis.
â€œAn estimated 30,000 metric tonnes of rice is being smuggled on a monthly basis into Nigeria. A survey in our local markets will attest to this fact as most of the rice products you see on display for sale are smuggled into the country through our land borders. By simple summation, 30,000 Metric Tonnes is smuggled every month.â€-Guardian