Penny wise!

The basic interest of this piece is first, to look inwards to what is happening, and then importantly, to consider taking immediate actions that are beneficial to the nation’s economy.

A review of the schedule of ships arriving the country, released daily by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) shows that Nigeria is importing food product such as crude palm oil.

You do not need to ask what the problem is with that, because there are indeed many things wrong, considering that palm oil nut is one agricultural product that is abundantly available in Nigeria’ s South-East and South-South regions.

Interestingly, the palm kernel fruit, which Malaysia took from Nigeria, has been turned into one of Malaysia’s major export products. They have taken time to breed a variety of rich species and made the palm kernel fruit one of their cash crops.

During a heated discussion bordering on the issue, different schools of thought emerged with their views of the situation; while some thought it was time to begin to make the best of it, others thought the nation’s population was large enough to get the best value (in monetary terms) for the product locally.

But wait a moment; we may want to think along the same line as the group thought the problem was with packaging the product. Of course, in product development, packaging makes the presentation a notch higher compared to when the product is left to sell itself.

Today, the main concern is that palm oil, which is available in abundant quantity at the back house of some communities in Nigeria, is being imported. Some people have even attested to the fact that the homemade palm oil tastes better than ones.

Penny wise! If Nigerians agree that the problem is with product packaging, then, let the packing of palm oil take a new dimension.

Daily, we hear of efforts by the Agriculture Ministry, the SURE-P, the Bank of Industry, and several others, to support the development and sustainability of the agriculture sector, but it is evident now that these programmes need to be more encompassing.

Provision of funds is obviously an important aspect in product and business development, but it is also very important to note the importance of relevant knowledge and skills for product development and marketing.

Much ado about the worry of importation of palm oil, what about the importation of tomatoes and fresh pepper, pineapple, oranges and watermelon? For these fruits and vegetables, the market women only need to fill their baskets and walk across the border from neighbouring countries into Nigeria.

Tomatoes are imported into Nigeria by the hour. Sellers flood the border towns with the vegetable and other fruits with little or no qualms. The products are cheap and many Lagos residents say these imported tomatoes are tastier and long-lasting in preservation.

Our worries may just be very many because one does not see how the operatives of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) will handle this situation. Would they leave monitoring the border against serious smuggling activities to keeping watch over tomato sellers? Well, someone may still need to ask: are the tomatoes officially allowed to be imported into Nigeria?

While we are trying to find answers to this question, Nigerians should also ask themselves what they should do right to grow and sustain the nation’s economy, rather than fault government over every lapse in the system.

It has become pertinent for Nigerians to also ask questions on the fate of the pineapples planted by farmers in the South Western states of the country, since there is now a glaring preference for the ones imported from Benin Republic.

Don’t be surprised when next you want to buy oranges from the roadside seller and he decides to ask you the one you prefer; Nigeria or Benin Republic orange?

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