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Why Nigeria is losing out in agricultural export markets

Agriculture experts have identified a lack of standards and measurement as part of the reasons exporters are shunning Nigerian produce in preference for those from countries like Ghana and Cote d’lvoire.
According to them, standards and measurement give other countries an edge over Nigeria in the exports of agricultural produce, adding that for any meaningful systematic changes to occur, it is important to first change the mindset of the people (farmers).

Also of concern are the sharp practices by some exporters, who bag Nigeria agricultural produce in Ghana sacks for exports, because of the trust international buyers have for products from other countries.

The Managing Director, Green Sahara Farm, Suleiman Dikwa, during a board meeting in Abuja, stressed the need for farmers to be truthful in their measurements, wherein a kilogramme is exactly what it is, with no sand mixture in the produce, which will increase patronage.

To achieve this, he said traditional rulers, and political leaders have a lot to do in changing the attitudes of their subjects.

He said: “It is a religious injunction that measurements must be measured, but unfortunately the government is not driving the process.

“That is the reason other countries have a comparative advantage over Nigeria. We have seen a factory in Abuja, where people are using Ghana sacks to sell our cashew nuts, cocoa bean, during the border closure. A lot of times, exporters don’t sell through the Nigerian ports to get that premium; they go through Ghana because by just crossing the border you make $50 extra.”

Dikwa disclosed that they are partnering with USAID and the Ministry of Agriculture, to enforce measurements in the market, adding that they are also working with Yobe State to create standards, measurement, and a grading system such that exporters can guarantee that they are getting the actual measurement of what they are buying even without being there.

He asserted that although Nigeria produces more agricultural produce unlike some of its peers in the region experiencing some disease infections, noting that its export potential can only increase through quality control and measurement, which is what Sahara Green Farms have committed to along their product lines.

He argued that standard operating procedures need to be established for farm produce and also establish a quality system for both domestic and international markets to improve trade opportunities.

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