LCCI Seeks Funding For Agric Value-Chain

Worried by the decline in earnings from the non-oil sector, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has advocated increased access to funds for value-chain activities in the agric sector as part of measures to improve market access.

Specifically, the Chamber while citing latest report from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) stated that performance of the non-oil sector in the first half of the year was not impressive as major indicators recorded a decline.

With a total of N2.7 billion guaranteed to 14,229 farmers under the Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme (ACGS) during the second quarter of 2015, the chamber stressed the need for improved access to credit support value-chain operators and exporters to acquire necessary facilities and equipment to meet international standards.

LCCI President, Alhaji Remi Bello, noted that latest report from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN’s) showed that the total non-oil export earnings by Nigerian exporters during the second quarter of 2015 stood at US$631.54 million, indicating a decline of 64.9 per cent and 75.1 per cent below the levels in the preceding ‎quarter and the corresponding period of 2014 respectively.

The LCCI boss who was represented by the Director General, LCCI, Muda Yusuf at a national agro-commodity export stakeholders forum organised to equip Nigerian exporters with the requisite skills and knowledge to gain access the global market, said Nigerian exporters have consistently suffered losses due to rejection of their products by several developed countries across the globe, pointing out that the situation has brought to the fore, the importance of meeting international standards if the nation must improve her fortunes in export market.

He said the recent European Union ban on some food items like beans, sesame seeds, melon seeds, fried fish, meat, peanut chips, cocoa, cashew nuts and palm oil from entering Europe till June next year, therefore, calls for the urgent need to formalise processes of standardising Nigerian Export products to meet the EU set deadlines.

A total of N2.7 billion was guaranteed to 14,229 farmers under the Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme (ACGS) during the second quarter of 2015.
“This amount represents a decline of 2.9 and 19.1 per cent below the levels in the preceding quarter and the corresponding period of 2014, respectively. Special intervention funds should be made more relevant and accessible to exporters to boost their capacity to compete with international brands and products,” he said.

He noted that with the current price of oil in the international market falling to about $48 per barrel, the Nigerian economy must be diversified away from the over-dependence on oil revenue, advising that government should focus ‎more on the non-oil sector for economic growth.

In his words: “Statistics from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), shows that growth in the non-oil sector was largely driven by activities of trade, crop production, construction and telecommunication. The non-oil sector grew by 3.46 per cent in real terms in second quarter of 2015. This was 2.13 per cent points lower from first quarter of 2015 and 3.26 per cent points lower from the corresponding quarter in 2014.”

He said in real terms, the non-oil sector contributed 90.20 per cent to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), marginally higher from the share it recorded in first quarter of 2015 at 89.55 per cent.
“This I implore the stakeholders here to deliberate on ways to achieve standardisation of our products towards boosting access to the international markets,” he added.

Also, Chairman, Export Group, LCCI, Dr. Obiora Madu, explained that LCCI convened the forum to address the constant rejection of some of the nation’s agro produce in international market, saying that Nigeria must get its act right before the EU deadline.
“Our agricultural commodities rank among the best in the world. My experience has been that there is nothing wrong with our produce but there is something wrong with us,” he said.

He stressed that the embargo placed on Nigeria is a reflection of the nation’s inability to adhere to global standards.
He noted that food safety in the early 21st century is an international challenge requiring close cooperation between countries in agreeing standards and setting up transnational surveillance systems.

He said going forward; Nigeria must undertake significant fixed investments in equipment and education, calling on the ministry of agriculture, trade and investment to take charge of the responsibility.

He also stated that the federal produce inspection need to be totally reorganised, privatised and commercialised structured around 80 per cent private and 20 per cent public.



Source: The Guardian Nigeria

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