Agribusinesses in Nigeria are getting a rare opportunity of being trained by a country’s trade agency, in order for them to become competitive in exporting there successfully.
Through a program called E-Lab Innova, the Italian Trade Agency (ITA) is providing select agribusinesses in Nigeria with training on how to successfully penetrate European markets, and areas of clear opportunities they can target in a country requiring inputs for its manufacturing industry.
The E-lab Innova is an educational training program for the agri-food sector in Nigeria promoted by ITA in collaboration with the Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC), together with other Italian partners such as AICS and MACFRUT. The training program is aimed at increasing the technical and managerial skills of Nigeria agri-food companies in order to support their access to EU markets and to foster business partnerships with Italian companies.
Alessandro Gerbino, the Italian Trade Agency director for West Africa, said the organisation helps Italian companies do business abroad and promotes made in Italy to the world.
While it also functions as part of the Italian embassy in many countries, it only started in Nigeria about a year ago and the first sector it decided to develop its activity is the agribusiness value chain.
“In agribusiness lies enormous opportunities for Nigeria and partnership among the two countries”, said Gerbino.
He explained that Italy is among the top ten exporters of food in the world and has one of the most sustainable agric sectors with lower emissions, cutting pesticides by over 20 percent in the last seven years, and has about a third of total protected destination of origin products, which are products certified for quality and authenticity.
As he explained, if the country has been able to achieve this it is in part due to technology available in the Italian market, and with the design of E-Lab Innova, some of this knowledge can be shared with local entrepreneurs in the Nigerian agricultural value chain. This training will in particular, prepare those seeking to export more to EU countries and Italy in particular.
“Our manufacturing sector is constantly in need of inputs,” he said, stressing Italy is a country good in transforming goods and products, the second largest manufacturing country in Europe, therefore, exporters from Nigeria who meet the right qualities and processes can be guaranteed of a market.
Even as the country seeks to maintain its position as a major food producer, it also wants suppliers that can provide products it can viably include in its production value chain.
This is why the ITA is looking to develop and partner with businesses elsewhere such as Nigeria, that can contribute through exports to Italy’s industrial needs.
E-Lab Innova had been previously introduced in regions such as East Africa, Central Africa and now West Africa since 2020. It is a programme that touches several aspects of the agribusiness company’s existence, not only about technology but management, product certifications, logistics, and marketing, which are areas businesses need to be familiar with when exporting to western markets especially Italy.
Also speaking during the session with journalists was Tarek Chazli, Italy’s deputy head of Mission, who said the project is coming at a time Nigeria is recovering from the pandemic, and is just the start of a series of collaborations towards improving economic ties between the two countries.
While he says Italian companies are present in many sectors from energy to construction in Nigeria, the Italian mission wants to push this collaboration into sectors that are key to the growth of this country and agribusiness has been identified as one of such.
Some Nigerian companies have completed training and another group has started, under the E-Lab Innova project, and the Italian mission expects to do more in advancing agribusiness in Nigeria, with Chazli saying, “Italy has a lot to offer”.
The E-Lab Innova is aimed at CEOs of highpotential Nigeria Companies, selected with the support of NEPC, active in the areas of producing; mango, pineapple, Shea nuts, and groundnut.
SOURCE: BUSINESS DAY