Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina has expressed optimism about Nigeria’s ability to play big in the European Union (EU) fresh produce market.
Welcoming a delegation of EU and Agricultural Fresh Produce Growers and Exporters’ Association of Nigeria (AFGEAN) to his office in Abuja, Dr. Adesina said that the country has the potential to do this, requesting, however, that a national strategy and investment plan must be put in place to pave way for this to be achieved.
He noted that a multi-stakeholder approach is needed in putting the plan and strategy in place.
As said by him the need for a research and development service as well as an institutional arrangement comparable to what obtains in Kenya, which is now a major horticultural product exporter in Africa is necessary.
The minister further told NaijaAgroNet Nigeria is closer to Europe than Kenya and could compete better than Kenya in the European market, adding that fresh produce economy in Nigeria would require activities beyond his ministry alone.
He, therefore, promised that an inter-ministerial meeting would be convened to include relevant ministries, states, financial institutions, AFGEAN, NGOs and other concerned groups to discuss cross-cutting issues.
The Horticulture value chain group of his ministry, he said, would work with DFID and EU to identify experts to evolve a comprehensive and detailed strategy that would help move from words to action.
The minister disclosed that that $380,000 has been included for AFGEAN and another $4 million for the development of horticulture.
Belgian Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Dirk Verheyen said, that they are concerned over promotion of exports from Nigeria.
“We are here because we want to promote not only the export from Belgium to Nigeria but also the opposite. We are here because there are airplanes coming from Belgium with freight. They are full when they are coming to Nigeria, but when they are going out of Nigeria, they are completely empty. So, I think there is a big opportunity for Nigeria to increase the export from Nigeria towards Europe,” he said.
The ambassador also spoke about agriculture in general, and also about fresh produce in particular, saying “there are concrete plans to develop and the Belgian Embassy and Belgian official institutions will try to support as much as possible.”
Decrying the lost opportunities in the past, President, Agricultural Fresh Produce Growers and Exporters’ Association of Nigeria (AFGEAN), Alhaji Tajudeen Aminu Dantata, said Nigeria is seriously lagging behind in the export of vegetables whereas other nations are making a headway.
Dantata, who was in company of AFGEAN executive secretary, Akin Sawyerr, noted there are socio-economic benefits that can accrue to Nigeria through production and export of fresh produce from Nigeria to Europe.
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