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Nigeria moves to increase fruits export to Europe


By Victor Asije
Lagos –  The Nigerian Ports Authority(NPA) has concluded arrangements to sign a
Technical Collaboration Agreement with the Port of Antwerp, Belgium towards increasing the
export of Nigerian fruits to the European countries.

Mr Tunde Okoya, President of the Nigerian-Belgian Commercial Information and Documentation Centre(NBCIDC),
disclosed this to News Agency of Nigeria(NAN) on Monday in Lagos.

Okoya said that with the agreement, more of Nigerian fruits would have
the opportunity of being re-exported from the Port of Antwerp, Belgium to
the various European countries.

“The Nigerian-Belgian Chamber of Commerce has concluded arrangements
to lead a second Trade Mission this year to Belgium from Sept. 19 to Sept. 21.

“The purpose of this Mission is for the Port of Antwerp to sign a
Technical Collaboration Agreement with the Nigerian Ports Authority

“This is to increase the export of Nigerian fruits to European

“We believe that if Nigeria is able to increase production and we are
able to reduce post-harvest losses, we can be sure that there are waiting
markets in Europe for our fruits.

“This is why we are trying to create a platform in anticipation of
Nigeria’s readiness to take advantage of the large fruits market in
Europe through the Port of Antwerp,’’ he said.

The president said that his organisation was working at creating
direct access for more fruits from Nigeria to the Port of Antwerp, and
eventually to other European countries.

Okoya said that during the Trade Mission, the management of the
NPA would sign the technical collaboration agreement with the management of
the Port of Antwerp.

He said that there would be a “Nigerian Day’’ in Voka, where the
benefits of both countries’ Chamber of Commerce engagements in
investment and businesses would be showcased.

Okoya said that the Trade Mission would be composed of Nigerians
selected from the Agro, maritime, those offering port services,
infrastructure and alternative power supply sectors.

The president said that his organisation had in its first Trade
Mission to Brussels this year, went with some Nigerian financial
institutions for them to interact with their counterparts in Belgium.

“We arranged for these Banks to meet with their counterparts in
Belgium, so that they would have access to Foreign Direct Investments
at very low interest margins.

“This time around, we are going be to meeting with Belgian processors
of agro-produce at the Port, so that they can interact with their
Nigerian counterparts to find access to the European fruits market,’’
he added.

The Agricultural Fresh Produce Growers and Exporters Association of Nigeria (AFPGEAN)
says between 55 per cent and 72 per cent of fresh produce grown in the country
perished before they could be consumed.

The Executive Secretary of the association, Akin Sawyerr, attributed the situation
to the fact that fresh produce needed to be kept in refrigerated conditions soon after harvest.

Sawyerr said such fresh produce were basically fruits and vegetables.

“Fresh produce production has the same challenges as other agricultural products
but its uniqueness lies in its being very perishable.

“The issue with fresh produce in Nigeria is that there is little processing,
no storage in refrigerated conditions due to lack of electricity (power)
for most of the produce grown by farmers.

“We also cannot move these produce quickly from farms to supermarkets or hotels or airports,
where they would be used because of poor road conditions,’’ he said.

The AGFPGEAN scribe, however, commended the Federal Government for its intention to concentrate
on infrastructure in the 2017 budget, saying this was of utmost importance.

He said that Nigeria had about five times more arable land than Kenya but the East African
nation earned about a billion dollars in fresh produce exports to European markets annually,
while Nigeria struggled to earn ten million dollars annually.

Sawyerr attributed this to lack of storage and poor farming methods.

He called on the government to ensure that its agencies and security personnel,
usually encountered on the highways and at the borders, are efficient
and effective in carrying out their tasks.

Sawyerr said these bodies, often times, constituted roadblocks to fresh produce transportation.

“Time is valuable in the life of fresh produce.

“Where your competitor in Cameroun can do a journey in 20 minutes,
you will use three hours on the road and speed is important
to prevent these produce from spoiling.

“I am not talking about corruption here but about the need for these regulatory and security agencies
to be sensitive and speedy in carrying out their tasks.

“This is of utmost importance,” Sawyerr said. (NAN)

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