Sunday, 12 November 2017


Nigeria’s effort to diversify the economy seems to be yielding results with increased revenue from the exportation of cashew nuts and other agricultural products. The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, made this known during a presentation at the National Economic Council meeting. According to him, the country’s agriculture exports in the second quarter of the year are largely driven by the export of cashew nuts which he said was worth N13.5 billion.

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Chief Ogbeh was briefing the NEC on Nigeria’s “Strategic Export Initiatives” which is a framework and action plan to grow and diversify the export of agro-products. The NEC meeting which is chaired by the country’s Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, has all the state governors, including the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, and the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, as members.

Nigeria has been under pressure to diversify its economy because of the crash in oil price. Also, the world is increasingly turning away from oil. The N13.5 billion earnings from cashew nuts, according to the minister, represent 45.4 per cent of the total agriculture exports and 1.37 per cent of the country’s total exports for the quarter. Cashew nuts export to Vietnam was N12.16 billion, the biggest so far, while India and Kazakhstan were N1.4 billion and N6.34 million respectively.

Chief Ogbeh informed the council that sesame seed exports in the second quarter was N7.0 billion, representing 23 per cent of the total agriculture exports. The major export destinations for sesame seed were Japan, N1.3 billion; India, N0.9 billion; Turkey, N0.9 billion; South Korea, N0.8 billion; and China, N0.6 billion.

Frozen shrimps and prawns’ export was N1.6 billion, representing 9.6 per cent of the total agriculture exports. The major export destinations were Netherlands, N1.5 billion; Belgium, N0.67 billion; United States, N0.22 billion; France, N0.17 billion; and Spain, N87 million. Spain was a major export destination for Nigeria’s soya-bean flour and meals, for the second quarter of the year; the export to Spain alone was worth N2.1 billion, the Minister, Chief Ogbeh, said. N116.6 million worth of soya-bean flour and meal was exported to Ghana in West Africa, while Senegal, Mauritania, and Germany were N72.9 million, N18.1 million and N2.0 million respectively.

Other agricultural exports within the second quarter are as follows: ginger, N663.7 million; flowers, N568.5 million; peanut kernels and other groundnuts, N481.3 million; and milk and cream powder, N282.4million.

Chief Ogbeh said the total value of the trade in agricultural goods in the second quarter of the year was N261.92 billion which is 4.60 per cent of the total trade in the quarter. He told the council that agricultural exports had increased by 82 per cent in the first quarter of 2017, while export earnings from agricultural goods stood at N30 billion for the same period. The discussions at the NEC meeting focused mainly on how the country could significantly improve and drive its non-oil export.

The Nigerian Export Promotion Council made a presentation to the NEC on its “Zero Oil Plan” – an ambitious plan to steer the nation’s economy completely away from oil. “The ‘Zero oil Plan’ aims at earning at least $30 billion from non-oil sources in the near to medium term as against the current earnings of about $5 billion,” the federal government said in the report of what transpired at the NEC meeting.

“The objectives of the ‘Zero Oil Plan’ is to add $150 billion to Nigeria foreign reserves over the next 10 years, create 500,000 jobs, lift 10 million Nigerians out of poverty and integrate each State of the Federation into the export value chain. The focus of the plan is on the export of the following crops — Rice, Wheat, Corn, Palm Oil, Rubber, Hides and Skin, Sugar, Soya beans and automotive parts among others,” the report said.

The Vice President, Professor Osinbajo, also constituted a National Committee on Export Promotion to review the ideas and suggestions tabled before the council. Five ministers, including the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, are members of the committee. The committee also has three governors – Jigawa, Lagos and Ebonyi States – as well as the CBN, Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, and the Nigeria Export-Import Bank, NEXIM, as members. The committee is to be chaired by the governor of Jigawa State and co-chaired by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enelama.

The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Barrister Udoma Udo Udoma, in his presentation to the council, said that the earlier projection was that the country would exit recession by the third quarter of 2017, but that the exit came three months earlier in the second quarter of the year. Confidence was gradually returning to the Nigerian economy, Barrister Udoma informed the council, adding that the recovery was driven ”largely by the growth in agriculture, as well as manufacturing, crude oil and gas production, solid minerals, financial services, and electric supply.”

Barrister Udoma, who said that unemployment and underemployment remained a challenge for the economy, cautioned that the economy was still deemed vulnerable to shocks. He said focused policy implementation was required to sustain the recovery.

The Vice President, Professor Osinbajo, was said to have expressed delight at the discussions in the meeting. He assured that the federal government would work together with the state governments to promote non-oil exports in the country.

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