Posted by Sade Williams
Nigeria is losing over N3.6trillion to export opportunities from agricultural commodities due to lack of operational and investment drives in the agro perishable and the aviation sectors.
This observation was part of the reports obtained from a recent workshop on Agro Air Logistics with Sub theme ‘Enhancing Air Transport Support for Perishable Goods’ at the Airport Business Summit and Expo 2018 conducted by FCI International Limited in Abuja.
The official document signed by the Managing Director of FCI International limited , Fortune Idu, listed the challenges to include: distance of production site to the market, high prices of perishable goods coming from loss along the supply chain, insecurity hindering sustained production and evacuation, multiple levies, poor transportation, poor logistics infrastructure, power, relatively crude local market, poor access to international the market, lack of comprehensive agro air logistics policy, clustering and touting at the freight corridor, de-marketing of Nigeria and lack of professional manpower placements.
Others as revealed by the report are: Low government support to private investors, discontinued previous air cargo projects by Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and non-expansion of the air cargo apron of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) project currently abandoned.
If these challenges are resolved, the report stated that, there would be more new Jobs, new airport revenue, reduction in cost of perishables, healthy food to mitigate food security, increased revenue for airlines, support to government plan for ranching, creation of investment opportunities into special cargo services and promotion of investments into cold chain logistics
Recommending some ways to close the gap, the report stated that there is need for stronger government policy on agro perishable air logistics and that there should be an establishment of a perishable goods unit in all airports to enable all airports capacity provide support for warehousing, handling and transportation of the perishable cargo through the country and beyond.
“There is also need for the establishment of one stop quality Inspection machines along the air logistics chain that allows shippers to access customs, quarantine, Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON) and National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) services for both local and international freighting. We need to promote further development of the Airport Free Trade Zone to strategically drive the perishable air cargo potentials under private public sector agreement”.
“That Federal Ministry of Transportation, Aviation to advocate for the revisiting and review of the past air cargo programme of FAAN in order to implement the project under a PPP arrangement as government has already invested capital.
“Establishment of a joint committee of Ministry of Transportation Aviation, Agriculture, Federal Ministry of trade and Investment and relevant agencies and organisations to develop policies that will revolutionise cold chain operations in Nigeria in order to attract investment into cold chain logistics. That effort should be made to address the national power challenges in the country by looking into alternative sources of energy and promote independent regional generation”, it stated.
The report pointed out that encouragement of private sector investment is key for addressing these challenges and sustaining the process of making Nigeria an international player in the agro and perishable export sector; therefore government should create the right environment and leadership that will allow the private sector to have confidence in long term investment.
It equally noted that introduction of export cargo growing promotion tax incentives may be required to be extended to private investors who want to develop perishable cargo handling centres along the transport corridor.
“The exploitation of unmanned aerial vehicles in agro business and the encouragement of research and youth engagement in this new technological area for possible perishable cargo delivery and to provide connectivity to remote farm areas”, the report recommended.
The 5th annual Airport Business Summit and Expo for Africa (ABSE) aimed at closing the gaps between the air transport sector and agro sector with the sub theme ‘Enhancing Air Transport Support for perishable goods was conveyed by FCI International limited led by Fortune Idu.
It was designed to engage both sectors in a discussion aimed at resolving challenges that hinder the seamless transportation of perishable goods to both the local and global markets.
With 120 delegates in attendance drawn from both the private and public sectors, representing 23 Federal airport regions, all the agencies of the Aviation sector, Nigerian Shippers’ council, the representatives from the developing airport in Bayelsa State, Nacho Free Trade Zone, Red Star Express, Federal Ministry of Industry, Nexim Bank, Kebi State and others.
The workshop assessed the potential of both sectors to help meet food security challenges and enable the exploration of international markets which it believes will help save the nation the estimated 50% loss in value and quantity of perishable goods due to the poor logistics chain.