‘Export of Agriculture Produce Has Increased Significantly’

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Herbert Odika
Chief Operating Officer of the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company Plc, Herbert Odika

Chinedu Eze

There has been increase in the volume of agriculture produce and other perishables export from Nigeria to mainly European and other countries where there is high population of Nigerians and other Africans.

This was disclosed to THISDAY in exclusive interview, by the Chief Operating Officer of the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company Plc, Herbert Odika, who said export was becoming more popular.

According to him, more Nigerians have taken to export as serious business to package farm and other products for export.
This he said, has also created more jobs at the airport and also encouraged farmers in the rural communities who now earn more for the produce.

“I would use this medium to confirm that export is becoming popular and people are beginning to recognise that there are demands, obviously the more people move out of this country, the more demands they have for Nigerians products.

“That is one; secondly one of the challenges we had before with export is packaging. In the past a lot of people do not export, not only from the airport but also through sea freight because the packaging of these products is not properly done. The products are rejected when they get over there. “The reasons for the rejection include the fact that the exporters do not know that they should carry out some kind of indemnity or insurance to make sure that both parties are satisfied before things are shipped.
“They are done on friendly basis and when they are returned or rejected they count their losses.

“But now you have improved packaging, especially in the perishable areas like vegetables, most commonly Ugu (pumpkin leaves), which is vegetable originally known by eastern Nigeria but is now eaten by every Nigerian. So the volume of export has increased as far as perishables are concerned.”

Continuing, he said: “We also have vaccines that are moved to African countries, which are exported from Nigeria. Do not forget Nigeria was supposed to be a hub; so you have trans-shipments of goods that are meant for other countries in the continent.
“They are brought to Nigeria and are exported to other African countries from the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos. This is because Lagos has the market in West Africa,” Odika said.

However, Odika noted that the exporters still need to be educated and updated on how to improve the packaging of their produce to make it easy and acceptable when they reach the destination of the foreign consumers.

“We want to work with exporters as part of our five-year transformation agenda; to work with exporters to look at their packaging styles to ensure that the standards and to educate them the more on how to improve packaging standards to make sure that they meet the right specifications. This will enable their goods meet the standards recommended when they get to their destination.
“Now people get away with things like fruits, Mangos that are displayed in shops like Tesko, because you do not need packaging there; they are fruits that are left open and just a sticker on it.

“Some items need proper packaging and you really have to meet the specifications in terms of the type of nylon to make sure that there is no poison or that the specifications of the nylon have no after effect, like cancerous hazards in it.

“This is the education we want to impart on our exporters to ensure that they are doing it well and at the same time in return get them encouraged to do a lot more export, which does not come very cheap because it gets there quick and air cargo is a bit pricy and at the same time perishable things need to get there on time or they rot which is often the case,” he added.

He said NACHO, which is the foremost aviation handling company in Nigeria, has import and export warehouses with cold rooms where the perishables are stored before export.