Agricultural exporters have called on the Federal Government to streamline the stringent requirements and multiple levies laid out to exporters before accessing foreign markets.
According to the exporters, agricultural commodities and other non-oil products have huge potentials to boost the country’s foreign exchange earnings.
The exporters made this plea at the end of the first virtual dialogue convened by the Department for International Development (DFID), Policy Development Facility (PDF) Bridge Programme.
The forum observed that there was an urgent need to restructure Nigeria’s trade basket to reduce the dominance of crude oil.
“With dwindling crude oil prices further exacerbated by the effects of COVID 19, the Nigerian economy which is largely reliant on the oil and gas sector is especially vulnerable.
“Government both at the federal and state levels must prioritise the development of the non-oil sector,” the statement read in part.
They also called on relevant government agencies and regulatory organisations to be deliberate about implementing policies that will enable the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to grow in their capacity to engage in more export.
The exporters urged the government to streamline the various channels in line with international best practices.
On his part, Chief Executive Officer of Tiger Foods, Mr. Don Ebubeogu, explained that the government through the Central Bank had introduced a number of policies to enable foreign trade like AGSMEIS loan
He said that the reduction of interest rate from 10 to 5 percent in 2020 was also commendable.
However, the government still needs to do more to encourage capacity utilisation and boost export trade, he said.
“The bulk of our non-oil export comes from agriculture. Apart from sesame seeds, hibiscus, and a few other items, the bulk of our exportable items are also consumed in large quantities in Nigeria, thus putting pressure on export trade
“We cannot maximize export when food security is threatened locally. Therefore, the government should focus more to boost food production by providing direct technical intervention to the rural farmers.
“Intervention that will aid the farmers embrace good agricultural practice and also to reduce post-harvest losses.
“We have thrown away a lot of money to farmers without getting the expected results. This is time to throw in technical assistance and equipment without necessarily providing money to the rural farmers,” Ebubeogu added.