Organic produce for export

Organic produce for export

By using bio-fertiliser, farmers are reviving land and boosting the nation’s agro exports prospect, Daniel Essiet writes.

While many farmers are battling to survive, because of the financial challenge of setting up a modern farm, organic farming method is helping Herny Adigun, chief executive, Yomex Organic Farm, to succeed.

He uses organic fertiliser, mostly green manure. This helps to provide moisture and nutrients. When he began, his knowledge of farming was not much.  Yet his willingness to learn and hard work have paid off handsomely – and he is an example to emerging farmers everywhere.

Yomex Organic Farm based in Lagelu Local Government Area of Oyo State,  showcases Adigun’s efforts to make his 16-acre farmland a self-sufficient organic.

The farm is one of the largest in the area, with tomatoes, cucumber and vegetables on three acres of land. Besides growing vegetables, Adigun has spacious sheds for poultry and goats. The peculiarity of the farm is its self sufficiency in every aspect, including manure production, and its solar power unit to generate its own electricity is nearing completion.

At the pace he is going, he could begin the process of applying for Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certification or any international certification as an organic grower. Although his farm is not yet ‘official’, he regards his operation as 100 per cent organic.

While exploring various business ventures, he hit upon organic farming as having a promising growth potential. He foresees a tremendous growth in the demand for organic food in the next few years.

With activities of farmers, such as Adigun, organic production,  has taken off successfully. Companies involved in organic farming are mostly export oriented.

In the last 20 years, a lucrative international market for organic cocoa, spices, vegetables and coffee has attracted more farmers into organic farming.

This is because the demand for such produce in the United States, Europe and Asia far outstrips domestic supply.

The major organic produce importing countries are the United Kingdom, the United States, China, India, Germany and the Netherlands.

A member of the Nigeria Vietnam Business Council, Mr Sunday Anjorin, said European and Asian markets offer good business opportunities for Nigerian organic companies that want to export their products.

According to Anjorin, supermarkets, food and pharmaceutical companies are channels for organic produce.

Others include bakeries, health food shops, specialised organic shops, fast food restaurants and delivery services.

He said organic spices and herbs were in demand in India.

So far, Germany is Europe’s largest market for organic products, with a sales volume of €5.8 billion and an average growth of 15 per cent yearly.

Indeed, food exports are vital to Nigeria’s economy, and increasing participation in organic farming by exporters is a welcome boost to the already strong and expanding sector.

Gradually, the ranks of certified organic farmers is swelling with the Nigerian Organic Agriculture Network (NOAN), an association that unites farmers, processors, exporters and organisations promoting the practice.

To experts and farmers, as organic farming drives growth in productivity, it  also allows farmers to get the most out of soil.

While health-conscious consumers worldwide are providing valuable new organic export markets, most Nigerian farmers are finding it challenging meeting necessary certifications and other requirements to take advantage of the growing popularity of organic foods in industrialised countries.

In most cases, new entrants incur higher costs applying new organic techniques without the higher prices associated with organic label.

Most importantly, the European Union (EU) legislation requires that imported organic foods are produced to the same standards as that from the UK or EU.

On the average, and to win certification, a farm must stop using most pesticides and make other changes, then maintain those practices for three years.

Going organic is governed by strict government standards, which require that products bearing the organic label are made without the toxic and persistent pesticides, synthetic nitrogen fertilisers, antibiotics, synthetic hormones, genetic engineering or other excluded practices, sewage sludge, or irradiation. Beyond this, producers and processors are expected to register with an EU-approved organic control body, and subject to the import controls for organic produce.

While farmers are struggling to comply with the high-level standards needed to meet certification requirements, the EU in June banned some of the nation’s food items. They included beans, sesame seeds, melon seeds, fried fish, meat and peanut chips, among others, from entering Europe till June this year.

According to the European Food Safety Authority, the rejected beans were found to contain between 0.03mg per kg to 4.6mg/kg of dichlorvos pesticide. The acceptable maximum residue limit is 0.01mg/kg.

Addressing a forum in Lagos, the Chairman, Agro-Commodity Export Group of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Dr Obiora Madu, said it was imperative for the government to resolve the issue before the June deadline given by the EU to correct the anomaly.

”Yes, there are a lot of export markets beyond Europe but if we do nothing, it is likely to escalate at the same time as other nations join the EU to reject our produce again we are in trouble.

“As a chamber, we are concerned about the trend and are actively at the forefront of sensitising farmers and exporters on compliance to international standard for our produce.”

According to him, food safety implies the absence or acceptable and safe levels of contaminants, adulterants, naturally-occurring toxins or any hazard that may make food injurious to health.

In an interview, Madu noted that the organic export market is growing because of awareness on the dangers of pesticide residues in food and growing disposable incomes of the urban middle classes.

He said organically-grown products don’t have problems because producers don’t use pesticides.

Madu observed that the EU market is one of the toughest to supply because the technical, ethical, quality and packaging standards are so high.

This, notwithstanding, the successful exporters expect buyers to pay a premium for the extra certification and the quality and size standards; however, they are increasingly finding that the EU is still paying lower prices.

For some exporters, there are still opportunities in the world, including the EU, which makes it attractive to new exporters.

With Nigeria like South Africa in its ability to produce diverse agro product ranges, he sees a bright future for aspiring exporters.

Madu stressed the need for collaborative efforts of regulatory authorities and stakeholders in formulating a framework to address the challenges of the agricultural produce in the international market

There are programmes to help farmer groups and small exporters overcome the challenges and take advantage of the remunerative markets. The programmes are designed to increase their technical skills and improve product quality, which will enable them to obtain organic and fair-trade certification.

Some of the programmes focus on stages of the supply chain from production, harvesting and packaging to certification and marketing. The vital part is to pay for the costly certification  and comply with high international quality standards.

On the issue, NOAN President Prof Victor Idowu Olugbemiga Olowe said the group was at the forefront of helping farmers to meet standards for certification.

To make them competitive, he said organic farmers, processors and traders must comply with strict requirements if they want to use organic logo or label their products as organic. He noted that farmers face a number of obstacles in exporting their products, including meeting buyers’ demands on quality, requirements and standards.

According to him, importers require agro exports to have certification. The organic product labels  should bear the name of the producer. The advantage of certification, Olowe noted, is that the exporters are able to brand their goods as “certified organic, not just organic” which would increase value.

NOAN, he argued, is striving to assist farmers to adopt organic agriculture as a model for sustainable food and farming.

One way to achieve this is through a national system certification that demonstrates sustainable production practices and meets food safety practices.

According to him, independent validation of sustainability and quality claims is crucial for organic growers to market their produce.

Globally, the major problem in the organic market is a large number of logos and brands, which confuses many consumers and potential buyers of organic products; and probably has a limiting effect on growth over several years. The other challenge is that exporters are expected to prove with documentation that their produce have fair trade certification.


Cargo firms, Arik, others partner on $5.2b agro export

Cargo firms, Arik, others partner on $5.2b agro export 

The  government of Anambra State  and a courier and cargo company, ABX World,  plan to facilitate the export of about $5.2billion worth of agro-allied products to European countries yearly.

ABX  Anambra, World Chief Executive Officer Captain John Okakpu, who made this known, listed others in the deal as Arik  Air and Skyway Aviation Handling Company (SAHCOL), adding that it would facilitate the packaging and air freighting to European countries.

Okakpu described the partnership as part of the state government’s efforts  to lead the way in its commitment to  developing agriculture.  The gesture, he said, is  capable of generating jobs, eliminating poverty and restoring investor’ confidence in the state.

He said the state had become a trailblazer in this regard, as “different state governments, realising their dwindling fortune in the wake of falling oil revenue, are now interested in the agro-allied exports.” He said Anambra State was leading the way through serious commitment to agriculture , adding that the state is far ahead of others in  grassroots structure and technology deployment to aid farmers.

He said: “When we entered into agreement with them, we discovered that they have gone very far. For instance, the state has over 1400 corporative societies and they have gone to the extent of training most of the farmers and also the certification of the corporative societies.

“The next step was the geo-mapping of the area for easy identification of the farmlands from any part of the world. This is a sure step to curb the incessant rejection of agro-allied produce from Nigeria at the European and the rest of the world markets.

“The EU certified trainers were in Nigeria about three months ago. So, after that training and certification programme, the participants were guaranteed of three years contract to supply agro-allied produce to Europe and can use it for the rest part of the world.

“This is the real capacity building we are talking about. There is no other better way to fight poverty and encourage farmers than to provide markets for them.”

Okakpu added that they are working with other partners, Arik Air and SAHCOL to ensure that about 75 farm products of which Ugu-pumpkin leaf tops the list, are exported from Nigeria to Europe and rest of the world.

He expressed optimism that the project will create millions of jobs in the country as more states queue-in into it.

He said that ABX World will use its partnerships around the world to make a difference, “create agricultural revolution whereby we bring in the off-takers to take agricultural products as long as they meet the international standard and requirements.”

Speaking on the development, Anambra State Commissioner for Agriculture, Afam Mbanefo, said that government’s penchant for agricultural development was to eliminate poverty, create job and improve the internally generated revenue (IGR).

Mbanefo said  Willie Obiano administration wants to be economically independent and buoyant and reduce excess dependence on the Federal Government.

“As a people-oriented administration, Willie Obiano has always sought for ways to create security,  good road network, peaceful night life; these are things that will get people involved, bring in investors and tourism. Now, the agro-allied export is another testament to the government unrelenting efforts to ensure Anambra State farmers do not lack market to sell their products.

“It is very imperative to note that before commencing the exports, the farmers through their cooperative societies received training and certification. In other words, we are confident that these products like pumpkin leaf (Ugu), and others will meet the market standard. As a government, we are happy about this new development and we are thankful to other facilitators like ABX World,” the Commissioner said.

Ethiopian Airlines, Bombardier Seal $63million Aircraft Deal


Ethiopian Airlines and Bombardier Commercial Aircraft have sealed a firm purchase agreement for two additional Q400 turboprop aircraft, that will bring the airline’s Q400 aircraft fleet to 19 aircraft.

The transaction is valued at approximately $63 million.

Group Chief Executive Officer, Ethiopian Airlines,Tewolde Gebremariam, said: “We are continuously working to have the right fleet with agility, optimal range, load and passenger comfort which is critical for us to keep our leadership position in the market.”

“The Q400 aircraft continues to be an integral part of our expansion strategy in Africa.Through our strategic partnerships with ASKY Airlines in Togo and Malawian Airlines in Malawi, the Q400 airliner has played a vital role in availing convenient connections, as well as increasing frequencies to support air travel growth in Africa and successfully create a missing link.”

”The Q400 aircraft is also our core fleet to our domestic and regional destinations, thereby ensuring excellent passenger experience, operational flexibility and economics. We continue to work with Bombardier to support and maintain the aircraft through our approved Q400 Authorised Service Facility and our Q400 aircraft simulator,”Gebremariam added.

Air Côte d’Ivoire, has announce plans to increase its fleet of seven aircraft to nine by April


Air Côte d’Ivoire, has announce plans to increase its fleet of seven aircraft to nine by April 2016.
The African carrier stated this recently in Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire when its received its third new Bombardier Dash Q400 NextGen aircraft, which increases its fleet to seven.
The airline also said that it hoped to increase the cities it flies into to 22 from its present 18 by 2016 and estimated a capital increment of 65 billion to over 100 billion FCFA before the end of next year.
The statement issued in Lagos by the media consultant to the airline quoted its Managing Director, Mr. Rene Decurey as saying that the airline was achieving its target with the delivery of Bombardier Dash Q400 Aircraft, which had enabled it increase regional and domestic routes and frequencies.

Decurey explained that its new aircraft was as fast as a jet, flexible, silent, comfortable and energy efficient, adding that it’s an idle aircraft that could operates both domestically and regionally.

Decurey emphasised that by 2018, the airline would have been profitable, but noted that to achieve this, new route must be opened and new planes must be acquired. With such growth and prospect, he said the airline has invested in training its own pilots and airplane mechanic with the partnership of INPHB and the Aeronautic institute Amaury of Grange (IAAG) and is currently training 15 pilots, and by 2018 would have 20 airplanes mechanics.

NAHCO Pledges Consistent Dividend Payment to Shareholders


The Chairman of Nigerian Aviation Handling Company,NAHCO, Suleiman Yahyah, has stated affirmatively that the company will continue to pay dividends to shareholders.

Yahyah, who spoke at the Closing Gong Sounding ceremony on the floor of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, NSE, in Lagos, said since the company was privatized and listed on the exchange in 2006, it has remained consistent with dividend payment.

He said: “I want to assure shareholders that this year will not be different. We will continue to declare healthy dividend in line with our consistent dividend strategy.”

According to him, since its privatization, the company has embarked on business diversification programme that cuts across industries and geography.

He said the company has developed strategic global alliances through its membership of aviance, the global alliance of 10 reputable airport service providers operating from 112 stations in 17 countries, and The International Air Cargo Association (TIACA), which exists to promote the air cargo industry and world trade.

Yahyah noted that from a single business company, NAHCO has grown into a diversified group that is not only in cargo and passengers handling, but is also into agriculture, free trade zone and energy.

He said:“We are ready to go on the investment in the free trade zone. The licence has been secured, the partnership with International Development Ireland,had been signed, management is in place and market is looking good.”

“We are also investing in our agric zone development ,which is part of free trade zone, a sub element of using our platforms in Lagos, Abuja, and Port Harcourt. Already 10 per cent of our earnings is coming from export.”

So we want to deepen it in view of the difficulty now in the forex market. So we will fast track that investment and hopefully, that should begin show in our performance by the end of 2016. Besides, we are also are moving to other African countries. We are licensed in Senegal and Cote d I’voire. Now is the time to make those investment decisions active.”

He disclosed that NAHCO invested over N10 billion in equipment, saying these equipment made the company to be about 150 per cent self-sufficiency.

He said the company has enough equipment and is ready for the new terminals that are coming Lagos, Port Harcourt, Kano and Abuja terminals.

“Our future remains to deepen our market presence, deepen our corporate governance culture and strengthen the board, which is stable and experienced and management to face the challenges in the economy. We also believe that our agric zone and free trade zone will provide continuous sustainability to the investors,” he said.

Indigenous Oil Companies Worst Hit By Oil Price Plunge

Nigerian independent oil companies  have been affected the most by the lingering plunge in oil prices, the Managing Director of Seplat Petroleum Development Company Plc, Austin Avuru has said.

Avuru spoke on Thursday, February 25, at the 13th Aret Adams Annual Lecture Series held in Lagos.

Speaking on this year’s lecture themed: ‘Low Oil Prices: Challenges and Opportunities,’ he said independent oil companies in the country were heavily impacted as they all borrowed to fund acquisitions and capital expenditure (capex) growth.

He said many independents are now cash negative and yet need more investments for production increase in order to survive, adding that the average price of $60 per barrel was required for most companies to survive this year.

“We need to embrace effective domestic utilisation of fossil fuels to survive, and because Nigeria is heavily dependent on oil to balance the economy, the drop in oil price was a huge blow to the country’s revenue,” Avuru said.

The Managing Director, Chevron Nigeria Limited, Clay Neff said Nigeria had the opportunity to improve its competitive position in the global oil and gas industry.

He noted that in this current situation, the country should restore investors confidence by providing competition in the oil market, adding that the security of lives and properties, and control stability and speedy approval processes should also be institutionalised.

The Chevron chief said the country should address its Joint Venture (JV) funding challenges and pay the arrears, adding that Nigeria had an attractive resource base.

Supply Glut: Nigeria’s Crude Languishes, Awaits Buyers

Red metal barrels against blue sky.

While Nigeria’s crude remains in ample supply, languishing as it waits buyers,  as Asian traders mop up Angola’s crude oil,

Nigeria’s Erha programme surfaced after weeks of delays that traders said related to a disagreement between state oil firm Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the field operator, Exxon-Mobil, Reuters reports.

Programmes for Erha were issued after several weeks of delay. Four cargoes will be loading in March and three in April, the programmes showed. NNPC also issued its official selling price for Erha in March at nine cents above dated Brent, up from a 17 cent discount in February. About 15 March-loading Nigerian crude cargoes are still available, traders said, and a force majeure on Forcados exports was doing little to boost differentials for most grades.

Bonny Light for April loading was offered at dated Brent plus $1.50 per barrel and Bonga at a $1 premium.

“NNPC is in discussions over long-term agreements to exchange crude oil for imported oil products, but fresh deals are unlikely to be finalised this week. The delays have put the country at risk of gasoline shortages,” it added.

According to the report, Sonangol only had an end-month Dalia for sale having already sold five spot cargoes including Sangos, Gimboa, Palanca and Dalia, while China’s Sinochem took six term cargoes under term agreements while Unipec took four.

It also revealed that Asian buyers snapped up spot cargoes but traders said US firm Phillips66 had also taken at least two April cargoes, including a Plutonio and a Hungo.

Total sold a spot cargo of Pazflor to Asia though the buyer was not immediately clear. Offers for other April loading cargoes were firming with Sonangol offering Dalia at dated Brent minus $3.20.