President of the Nigerian-British Chamber of Commerce (NBCC) on Wednesday called for a vibrant export system to improve the nation’s economy and balance of trade with Britain.
Adefulu told journalists that Nigeria could leverage on the large population of Nigerians in the diaspora by increasing its existing export to Britain.
“There are nearly three million Nigerians living in Britain. There are more Nigerians living in Britain than anywhere else in the world outside of Nigeria.
“That is a market into which we should be exporting daily. There are lots of goods that can be exported to Britain. It is a natural market for our export, even for food.
“But you will be surprised that at this point in time more than 80 per cent of food Nigerians in Britain eat are exported by other countries and not Nigeria.
“Pineapple and yam come from Ghana; Garri is being exported from Ghana, even though they do not eat garri much in Ghana.
“The same thing with cassava foo otherwise called `Akpu’ which the Ibos here eat, they have the equivalent in Ghana which is being exported to our people in Britain.
“Banana and plantain come from Costa Rica, even ewedu comes from Egypt, the Nile. These are things we should be exporting daily,” he said.
Adefulu said that managing the process, value chain and product quality becomes imperative for Nigeria to harness and benefit from the existing bilateral trade with Britain.
“You will not be dumping your plantain and banana the way we dump them here and they will find acceptance. It is only in Nigeria that such will sell, they will not sell in other places.
“When a bunch of plantain is harvested, they hang it like that and then export them properly with respect.
“We must give emphasis to quality because Nigerian products have bad storage system and that is affecting everything we do.
“When the products get there, they will reject it because they know we will not comply with the quality standards,” Adefulu said.
He urged the government to build infrastructure to support export and create the right financial environment and encourage training of operators who are adding value to export promotion in the country.
“If export thrives, the trade is worth several billions, but you must build the necessary infrastructure; put the right financial intermediation in place and train your exporters.
“There are many goods that can be exported, including flowers and vegetables but when you get to our airports there are no cold room facilities there.
“The goods get to the airport in the morning, remain in the sun all day, by the time they are exported in the evening, they are dead.
“That is a great discouragement for export. If we really want to get export right, these are things that must be attended to.
“In Ghana, all those agricultural products, do not queue. They are given a fast track to the top of the line. They are treated as national priority,” Adefulu said.
He urged the government to give the necessary buffer and support to exporters by looking at the risk and help them to mitigate it.
“The government must take it as an article of faith for the survival of our economy,” he said.
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