Experts in the non-oil export sector have stressed the need for a combined effort to boost the non-oil export sector in Benue State.
Our correspondent reports that some of the agro exportable commodities in Benue include yam, citrus, sesame and soybean, among others.
Leading the discourse in Makurdi, the Nigerian Shippers’ Council’s Executive Secretary, Barrister Emmanuel Jime, said the move was in line with the present mantra and the federal government’s interest in boosting the non-oil export balance of trade from imports and to transform the nation to an export dependent economy.
Jime spoke at a one-day seminar on Appropriate and Quality Assurance of Agro-Allied Products as a Panacea for Increased Export,” organised by the Council in Makurdi, the Benue State capital.
“This enlightenment programme is very important to the Council as it serves as an avenue to bring stakeholders together for cross-fertilization of ideas on the way forward towards attaining efficient and effective packaging/quality assurance of agro-allied products as good boost in non-oil exports,” he said.
The Shippers boss also noted that Benue State, known for its food abundance, would immensely benefit from the great potentials of import/export trade, taking into cognizance its many exportable commodities such as solid minerals and agro-allied products.
He said the seminar would instill in participants the knowledge of how to break the jinx of constant rejection of Nigeria’s export products at the international market and make them competitive at the global market.
Jime further charged participants to avail themselves of the opportunity to acquire necessary knowledge required to secure loans from development banks and enhance the profitability of their businesses.
An expert, Ben Anani of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) in his paper presentation, entitled, “Packaging and Quality Assurance of Agro-Allied Products”, drew the attention of participants to reasons why some of Nigeria exportable commodities are rejected in foreign markets.
He cited example with the Benue yam rejected few years ago at the international market mainly due to packaging and inappropriate/high quantity application of residues found on the product.
Anani therefore emphasised the need for farmers to adhere to best global practices and to consult experts where required, to work as a team in order to achieve successful export trade and generate foreign exchange.
On his part, Ben Nyakuma of the Nigerian Export Import Bank (NEIB) treated participants on “Access to Fund and Incentives Package”, while maintaining the readiness of his institution to partner with individuals or co-operations with laudable export ideas.
Earlier, the Benue State Commissioner for Trade and Investment, Benjamin Agber, who noted that the seminar could not have come at a better time, stressed that the seminar would expose Benue people to the benefits of export trade and the best practices therein, “especially now that the emphasis has shifted from oil to non-oil exports.”
Governor Samuel Ortom, who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Dr. Tivlumun Nyitse, advised the Shippers Council to train more farmers on how to package their products for export value.