Stakeholders in the non-oil export sector have stressed the need for a combined effort to boost the non-oil export sector in Benue State. Some of the agro-exportable commodities in the state, commonly referred to as the Food Basket of the Nation, include yam, citrus, sesame and soybean, among others. Speaking at a one-day seminar on “Appropriate and Quality Assurance of Agro-Allied Products as a Panacea for Increased Export”, the Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Mr. Emmanuel Jime said “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 noted that Benue State, known for its food abundance, would immensely benefit from the great potentials of import and export trade, taking into cognizance its many exportable commodities such as solid minerals and agro-allied products. Jime 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. The Executive Secretary charged participants to avail themselves of the opportunity to acquire necessary knowledge to secure loans from development banks and enhance the profitability of their businesses.
An expert from the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Ben Anani in his paper presentation entitled, “Packaging and Quality Assurance of Agro-Allied Products”, urged participants to reasons on why some of Nigeria exportable commodities are rejected in foreign markets. He cited the example of Benue yam, which was 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, stressed 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.
The representative of the Nigerian Export Import Bank (NEIB), Ben Nyakuma spoke on “Access to Fund and Incentives Package”, while maintaining the readiness of his bank to partner individuals or corporations to provide laudable export ideas. Earlier, the Benue State Commissioner for Trade and Investment, Benjamin Agber stressed that the seminar would expose Benue people to the benefits of export trade and best practices “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 Nigerian Shippers’ Council to train more farmers on how to package their products for good export value.