The Federal Government has said that the export of farm produce from 14 Perishable Cargo airport terminals would begin by the middle of this year as construction work on the designated airports was nearing completion.
The Minister of Aviation, Mrs. Stella Oduah, who stated last weekend, said the projected revenue that will accrue from the export of farm produce by Nigerian farmers through the perishable cargo programme would surpass that earned from oil revenue in the next 10 years.
“It would also empower farmers who constitute 85 per cent of Nigeria’s work force and reduce poverty in the country by 60 per cent,” she said. Oduah said the airport terminals have been selected in line with their regional agricultural comparative advantage and private sector expressions of interest.
“They will enhance the farm-to-market value chain, consequently improving the food security network, rural transformation by creating rural employment opportunities in storage, warehousing and air/road transportation logistics,” she said.
She stated that the perishable export cargo programme would utilise open field cultivation for fresh produce, as farmers would be able to transport their products to collection centres in the states, while refrigerated trucks would deliver the products to the primary airport hubs.
“These collection centres are part of the farming skills centres in each of the state with the perishable cargo terminals. The fresh produce would find its way to local farmers markets or be exported to supermarkets in EU, USA or the Middle East where off-takers would have made pre-arranged inspections and processes for the produce,” she said.
Oduah said although the Federal Government was driving the programme, states and local governments have expressed interest in it as it would benefit the rural dwellers who today toil in their farms but earn very little from their produce.
The Minister also assured that “the perishable cargo terminals are in various stages of completion and should deliver the first fresh produce to local supermarkets and international markets by 2014.”
“Various private investors and state governments have expressed readiness to take advantage of the programme and contact the relevant authorities for permissions to establish Export Processing Zones or Free Economic Zones at the terminals,” Oduah said.
The Minister said that government would ensure that certain standardisations were achieved in terms of quality of the produce and the packaging so as to meet the standard of international consumers in Europe, the US and other parts of the world, some of whom have already indicated their interest to accept Nigeria’s farm produce.
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