Businesses of European Union origin are seeking more business opportunities and partnerships in Nigeria, especially in the agricultural sector. This was clearly demonstrated at the recently held European Union-Nigeria business forum, agriculture session.
Affirming this, Akinwunmi Adesina, Nigeria’s minister of agriculture, after a meeting with the stakeholders in this move being made by Europe, said: “There is a lot of opportunities for Europe and Nigeria for agribusiness investment partnerships. We plan to play big in the horticulture market in Europe because Nigeria is closer to Europe than Kenya, Tanzania or even Mozambique. We are going to take advantage of our big size in the horticulture market. The largest market is in Europe, but that market is quite difficult to penetrate because it is based on a lot of safety standards, consumer standards that we have to meet, so we have been working together with the ambassadors of the European countries to prepare Nigeria to enter that global horticulture market.”
He reiterated President Goodluck Jonathan’s support in getting the country to move towards this fresh produce export market with Europe, however, noting that issues such as certification, farm audits, contracts with supermarkets were hurdles to be crossed but he was already in consultation with the ambassadors of those European countries over the issues.
Adesina said: “I believe that Europe needs to open up its markets for us in terms of value added export, we don’t want to export raw materials but value added products, so they need to change the current situation where you pay higher tariffs if you are exporting value added products.”
The ministry is encouraging farmers to get into groups in order to meet the standards to access this export market, he said, saying “we are organising our farmers into groups because for horticulture you must produce what the market wants, when it needs it, the quality it needs and the price the market is ready to pay for it. In Europe, your farm has to be certified to sell fresh produce.”
According to him, the National Agricultural Quarantine Services (NAQS), an agency under his ministry, is the one that gives certification to farmers that want to export. He said: “NAQS helps them to recognise the amount of residue levels above which they will not be allowed in the European market. The NAQS will play a greater role as we look to the export market in particular for fresh produce. We are improving extension systems to help our farmers understand the needs of the market. The world is changing very rapidly and Nigeria is not going to be a laggard, our farmers have to modernise and that is why we are using modern tools.”
The organisers of the event expect that through such forum, the capacity of Nigerian investors, especially farmers would be improved in order to access the export market and succeed in the international market.
Jennifer Ijeoma Anoika, COO, Nigerian German Business Association, said: “A lot of Nigerians do not know the regulations or the changes in the regulations, the SMEs in particular. We want to see more small companies such as Tropical Natural, which is doing quite well with the Dudu Osun, with export products.”
Provide the needed support for reliable Nigerian businesses that want to travel to Europe and pursue business partnerships there.
Lawrence Ohue-Inegbenoise, from Friesland Campina, explained the company’s plans to get more indigenous farmers and investors involved in sourcing milk for its production.
First published here