- Title: NIGERIA: Nigerian entrepreneur cashes in on food export business.
- Date: 20th December 2013
- Summary: LAGOS, NIGERIA (RECENT) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF BOLAJI OKUSAGA, ECONOMIC ANALYST NAME TAG ON DESK READING: BOLAJI OKUSAGA (SOUNDBITE) (English) BOLAJI OKUSAGA, ECONOMIC ANALYST, SAYING: "Already if you look at Nigeria's GDP, two things are quite critical, agric is over 40 percent of the gross domestic product and you can look at a five year review of Nigeria's GDP, you see what that throws up, it oscillates between 46 percent and 40 percent, quarter on quarter, ok? So that tells you that agric is still no doubt a very important sector, but how have we played the advantage of this important sector, how have we played it to our advantage? Have we just left it at subsistence level? The answer of course is yes." VARIOUS OF PACKAGED FOOD ITEMS ON A TABLE WORKER SEALING SACKS OF GARRI (CASSAVA FLOUR) (SOUNDBITE) (English) CHRISTOPHER IGWEH, VOC ROYAL RESOURCES EMPLOYEE, SAYING: "My plan is to establish my own as what I learn here, so that is what my plan is because I have worked here many years since 2008 till date." WORKERS CARRYING SACKS OF FOOD INTO A TRUCK SACK OF GARRI READING: "WHITE GARRI 20 KG" WORKERS LOOKING AT TRUCK CONTAINER TRUCK READING: "HAPAG-LLOYD" VARIOUS OF WORKERS CLOSING THE CONTAINER VARIOUS OF TRUCK DRIVING OUT OF THE MARKET
- Embargoed: 4th January 2014 12:00
- Location: Nigeria
- Country: Nigeria
- Topics: Business,Economy
- Reuters ID: LVACAY7SBCCTBHZBZC8MTEHUYSSL
- Story Text: While oil has dominated the Nigerian export economy for decades, the government is trying to diversify and focus support for non oil industries like agriculture. Food export has been growing as a viable business opportunity for entrepreneur, Victor Chukwuogo who established a processing and packaging factory for the export of African food to the diaspora some years ago. He is now a major exporter of Nigerian foods to the United States, UK, Asia and the Middle East.
At a bustling market in downtown Lagos, traders sell locally produced fresh fruit and vegetables popular.
Food is cheaper at the Oyingbo market and is considered fresher than processed products found in high-end supermarkets.
Hidden inside Oyingbo is Victor Chukwuogo's food factory, which he set up two years ago after realising the export potential of indigenous foods.
The 40-year-old entreprenuer invested 500,000 naira (3,145 US dollars) to start his business - 'Voc Royal Resources.'
At the factory, Victor prepares and packages dried vegetables, palm oil, cassava flour known locally as 'garri,' crayfish, spices and other types of farm produce.
He sources all his produce from farmers and local markets and ensures their freshness is preserved for his clients spread across the African diaspora in the United States, Canada, Australia, South Africa and the United Kingdom.
"Most of our products here are 100 percent organic, let me just use the word, organic. You see, like our gingers, our garlics and our chili peppers, spices, they are hot cake so the foreigners they need it and also not forgetting the fact that we have our brothers, the diaspora in abroad also need it," said Victor.
In a year, Victor's company makes a profit of 15 million naira (nearly 95,000 US Dollars) proof of the growing demand for his products. But he says the major challenge is ensuring the quality of the exports.
"The major challenge is the quality of your product number, if you get it wrong, it's a very big challenge. It's just like somebody exporting possibly garri and there are found in that garri, sand and the rest of them; it's a challenge, Victor added.
Despite, Victor's relative success in the agricultural industry, oil remains the main source of foreign currency and state revenues in Nigeria. But agriculture is by far the biggest contributor to Gross Domestic Product (GDP), making up 40 percent of Africa's second largest economy.
Most of the food consumed by the country's 170 million population is, however, imported.
In some cases, the imports substitute for things Nigerians are growing but can't get to market or lack the means to process.
The country produces 1.5 million tonnes of tomatoes annually of which 45 percent perish, while consumers spend 360 million US dollars on tomato paste imported from countries such as Italy and China.
Nigeria is also the world's largest importer of rice and the biggest buyer of U.S. wheat, while much of its own land lies fallow.
The government plans to create 3.5 million new jobs in agriculture and boost food production by 20 million tonnes by 2015.
According to economic analyst, Bolaji Okusaga, the agricultural sector has been neglected for too long and has the potential to help cut poverty and unemployment if the government would invest in its development.
"Already, if you look at Nigeria's GDP, two things are quite critical, agric is over 40 percent of the gross domestic product and you can look at a five year review of Nigeria's GDP, you see what that throws up, it oscillates between 46 percent and 40 percent, quarter on quarter, ok? So that tells you that agric is still no doubt a very important sector, but how have we played the advantage of this important sector, how have we played it to our advantage? Have we just left it at subsistence level? The answer of course is yes," said Bolaji.
Christopher Igweh has been working here for 'Voc Royal Resources' for five years. Christopher says Victor has inspired him to start his own business.
"My plan is to establish my own as what I learn here, so that is what my plan is because I have worked here many years since 2008 till date," he said.
In spite of poor infrastructure and policies targeting small and middle income businesses in the agricultural industry, Victor's company is cause for optimism.
He hopes to expand and market his produce to other countries across Europe and Asia and in his own small way help to improve Nigeria's agricultural potential.
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