Stories by Steve Agbota [email protected] 08033302331
Exporting Nigeria’s local spices to other countries of the world could build the nation’s economy by generating huge foreign exchange and turn the lives of farmers around within a short period.
Nigeria is blessed with a wide variety of spices used to boost the taste of foods, and to enhance the flavour and aroma of processed foods and beverages.
Apart from acting as seasoning, spices are also known for their medicinal value and are useful in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries.
Nigeria has the potential to generate over N15 billion annually from these local spices if properly harnessed because the country is blessed with a large variety of them with very high grade. He said, “for instance, ginger doubles as a popular herb and spice and is popularly used in its fresh, powdered and dried forms, even as a juice or oil. Potential investors stand to make millions of dollars within few months in spices business if they do it right. Dried ginger is sold in the international market at the rate of $6000 to $7000 per metric tonne while in the local market it is sold for $3,500.”
According to statistics by the Nigerian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, NACCIMA the non-oil product export sector is rapidly on the rise. The demand for local spices like ginger, onions, garlic, chilli pepper and turmeric, among others, is huge both locally and internationally.
Daily Sun learnt that thousands of hotels across the country, coupled with the numerous fast food and restaurants, are in need of these species everyday, which has made local production and marketing of spices a good and successful business in Nigeria. At the international market, locally produced spices are a foreign exchange earner as they are in great demand by Indians, Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, Germans and Greek, even in United Kingdom and America.
Today, the world’s spices industry is said to be generating hundreds of billions of dollars annually for farmers and investors, but reverse is the case for Nigeria, as the country still spends millions of naira annually to import spices, which can be grown and virtually processed for export and local consumption.
Industry watchers say over the years, some countries have been making huge revenue exporting their spices but some African countries, including Nigeria, consume most of their spices locally instead of turning them into foreign exchange earners. They argue that the spices industry has been neglected and Nigerians are not exploiting its potential as the call for strong political will to encourage businessmen to turn the potential in local spices into a goldmine.
For years now, Ethiopia has been one of the major active players in export of spices to other countries, raking huge foreign exchange. In 2012 alone, Ethiopia reportedly earned over $700 million from export of spices. Since then, the country has been improving on the business and generating revenue from it.
Speaking with Daily Sun, the Coordinator of Community of Agricultural Stakeholders of Nigeria (CASON), Mr. Sotonye Anga, said that there is huge possibility for local spices to generate foreign exchange because these spices are ingredients for preparing food around the world.
He hinted that if spices are given serious attention, they can generate over N15 billion annually because Nigeria has a whole lot of garlic, onions, ginger, turmeric, pepper whose combined capacity is huge when it comes to export markets.
He explained: “When you talk of Nigerian ginger, it is so spicy and pungent. I think Nigeria’s spices defeat the food African pungent spice varieties and that puts it in a class of its own globally. That is also responsible for our outstanding divine pattern. Going forward, we need to exploit this opportunity across the Asian and other countries to earn foreign exchange and getting our farmers to earn more for growing these crops on a very high commercial basis.
“These spices, for instance, stand out because of their hot nature. With the grade of spices from Nigeria, it is outstanding if you compare it to spices from other places. Our grade of spices are pungent, aromatic and they are outstanding, and that would also be a huge basket of wealth waiting to be harnessed. We just need to harness it right now and this the best time to harness this potential.”
Speaking on the processes to get the spices exported to other countries, he said basically, there is need to meet food safety requirement, put all the shipping documentations together to generate order for the different spices that will be sold, generating to close in-bills and ensure that where these spices are going, food safety standard is maintained in terms of post-harvest practice, packing and handling and all through to the shipment.
An expert, George Enuch, who exports agricultural produce, said that to add value to locally produced spices, processing is very important, which he said can be achieved using locally fabricated equipment for domestic and export markets.
In Nigeria, ginger root is now being processed into oil for export, even as local foods companies produce foods from ginger including ginger drinks, ginger biscuits, ginger sweets, ginger tea and gingerbread.
Another spice similar to ginger is onions, which is used in its raw form as well as in other processed forms such as powder, dried flakes or liquid. It is a spice used to flavour soups, sauce and meats.
FG can generate revenue from plantain farming-Victor
The Managing Director of Eminence PlantainVille, Racham Victor, has said government can generate more money from registered commercial plantain and banana farms if the potential is properly harnessed.
Victor who spoke to Daily Sun in an exclusive interview, argued that if plantain and banana industry is taken seriously, government could generate revenue through opening of international trade for plantain and banana in the country. Now that people are adding value and making different products from plantain like plaintain bread and plaintain wine, he said plantain processing companies would also pay tax to government’s coffers.
However, he said that despite being one of the highest producers of plantain in the world, Nigeria has never exported plantain to other world. Adding that plantain occupies a strategic position for rapid food production in Nigeria and is ranked third among starchy staples.
According to him, the country’s output doubled in the last 20 years while contributions of plantain to the income of rural households in major producing areas in Nigeria has continued to increase in the last few years.
He added: “Unlike some other starchy staples whose demand tend to fall with rising income, demand for plantain increases with increasing income and the potential for industrial processing of plantain has recently been adopted. Plantain farming should be an avenue for the government to create wealth and employment for Nigerians, especially the youths because it is a staple food that commands high price with high demand and ready market.”
As part of efforts to start exporting plantain, he said there is already a crowd-funding plantain and banana village project in Ekiti State, which will enable farmers who may wish to invest in plantain farming to do so easily and make profits.
Victor hinted that plantain farming is a very lucrative business as a bunch of plantain sells between N500 and N1, 500.
He explained: “Take this calculation for example: if a farmer planted 1000 plantain suckers with an average of 12.5kg per bunch yield, if one kg is sold at N100 then the farmer will have N1, 250 a bunch totaling N1, 250, 000 at the end of a year. After deducting expenses of about N500, 000 (without irrigation), the farmer will have N750, 000 in first year. With proper farm management, the farmer will harvest every nine months and have suckers to sell and expand the farm, which will generate more income.”
While advising intending plantain farmers, he said they should consider irrigation before planting, saying the reason Nigeria usually has temporary plantain glut in the market in on-season and scarcity in off-season because majority of existing and intending plantain farmers are rain dependent.
Said he: “At the onset of rain, they all start planting, which makes the produce to be out at once resulting to glut. If an intending farmer cannot afford to irrigate his/her plantain farm alone, can do it in partnership or join crowd-funded plantain village project. Intending farmers should also equip themselves with adequate knowledge of plantain cultivation.”
Budget: N9.2bn agric allocation below Maputo declaration –Stakeholders
Stakeholders has berated the Federal Government over the N92 billion allocated to agric cultural sector in the 2017 proposed budget, which is 15.2 per cent increase from N78 billion in the 2016 budget allocation for the sector.
The implication is that Nigeria is yet to comply with Maputo Declaration of 2003, which indicates that 10 per cent of entire national budget should be allocated to agriculture and Nigeria was part of African country that signed the agreement. Since then, some African countries like Mozambique has surpassed the 10 per cent budget allocation for agriculture.
Though, they, lauded President Muhammadu Buhari for his efforts to develop the sector but they bemoaned that the N92 billion, which is 1.5 per cent of the proposed budget, comprises of both recurrent and capital expenditure for the agric sector in 2017 cannot solve the issues of mechanisation, high improved seedlings, insurance, training, rehabilitation of irrigation facilities and dams, extension services, fertiliser subsidy, research and development and other challenges facing the sector.
The stakeholders called on Federal Government to increase the proposed 2017 budgetary allocation for the sector, saying that the 15.2 per cent increase in the allocation was inadequate to address incessant challenges like poor storage facilities confronting farmers across the sector.
Statistics show that Nigeria is one of the least mechanised farming countries in the world with the country’s tractor density put at 0.27 hp/ hectare which is far below the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) recommended tractor density of 1.5 hp/ hectare and occupied 132 position out of the 188 countries worldwide measured by FAO / United Nations in terms of the number of tractors in the country.
National president, Tractors Owners and Operators Association of Nigeria (TOOAN), Iesa Bitrus Yakubu commended the government 15.2 per cent rise in agric budget, but stated it still needs to adequately provide fertilisers to farmers and trainings for them on the best practices.
He said there is need for improvement on mechanisation, which is very important and government needs to provide infrastructure by rehabilitating the dams and irrigations across the country.
Also speaking, Vice President, Nigeria Agribusiness Group (NABG), Emmanuel Ijewere said: “the proposed budget is just one percent of the entire budget for 2017. This shows that the government has not indicated its commitment by putting agriculture at the forefront of the economy. Nigeria signed the Maputo agreement to assigned 10 percent to the entire budget to agriculture but this is not so.”
Ijewere recommended the development of linkages between farmers and the market, guaranteed minimum price for agricultural products as well as a robust insurance for farmers.
Analysts said policy makers must particularly pay more attention to export of value- adding agric products to bring more foreign exchange into the economy at a critical period like now.
Stakeholders stress that though Nigeria should support exporters, the Federal Government must focus attention to those who add value to their products before taking them out of the country’s borders.
Chairman of the Export Group of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Obiorah Madu said: “If you do not add value, you will only get peanuts for your exports.”