By Chinedu Eze
The Managing Director of Skyway Aviation Handling Company Limited (SAHCOL), Rizwan Kadri has said that Nigeria has so much perishable farm produce to export to outside world and generate revenue that would outstrip earning from oil and gas but it must meet international criteria to sell these produce to global market.
Kadiri said the number one factor is providing comprehensive transport system, which should be a mix of rail, road an air to move perishable goods from place of source to the airports at very short time; government’s incentives to the farmers, the certification of the produce by international organisations for the global market and necessary airport infrastructure, including cold rooms for the storage of the produce.
Speaking at a press conference during the weekend, Kadri, said that Nigeria is blessed with the land, farmers and hardworking people to harness the agro-allied market but still lacks needed infrastructures, good road network and empowered personnel.
“We need safety on the roads, empower our farmers and give them facilities to help grow their products. If government invests in these, the returns will be in ten folds. The road infrastructures have to come in, the freezing facilities also have to come in because the farmers are in remote places and for them to exports, the products have to come in from one of the major airports, either Lagos, Abuja, Kano.
“They also need the refrigerators fans. The government has to get into the global certification process because the goods are going out and it is accepted from other countries but not from Nigeria. The government should have confidence in the products we have. The vegetable, mangos and yams can be acceptable through the global certification process,” Kadri added.
He disclosed that as against 31million metric tonnes carried out by the handing company in year 2015, imports in 2016 gradually increased to 35million tonnes, showing an increase in importation by 12.9 percent.
He further disclosed that exports saw similar increase from 15tonnes to about 40 tonnes daily, as Nigeria’s products has continued to gain traction in other countries.
On the Abuja airport closure and how it will affect the company’s turnover, Kadri said the government is taking the right step in the right direction to get the runway repaired but noted that stakeholders were neglected in its decision to divert flights to Kaduna.
According to him, “We are definitely going to lose a lot of revenue, if we make about 70 to 80millio out of Abuja in a month, we have lost that. No one asked us what we think. If we have to move our equipment to Kaduna, we have to spend a lot of money on that and it is a huge burden on us.”
He however identified dollar constraints as its major challenge in year 2016. “People do not import as much as they want to because of dollar constraint, otherwise, there is a huge demand for import.”