n West Africa, where the majority of the world's cocoa is…
Nigeria’s agricultural sector holds significant potential as a key economic driver. However, maximizing this potential involves addressing certain logistical aspects, particularly in the transportation of perishable goods to markets. This challenge presents an opportunity to improve both local and international market access.
In a recent article from THISDAY, it was highlighted that transporting farm produce from regions such as Kebbi to Lagos involves substantial costs, including diesel and logistics. The duration of these journeys, often several days, can affect the quality of the produce due to the challenges posed by the current transportation methods.
The majority of perishable goods from northern and middle belt farms are currently transported to major consumption areas via road. While this is the prevalent method, it has its limitations in terms of time efficiency and maintaining the quality of the produce.
Responding to these transportation challenges, stakeholders in the aviation industry have suggested air freighting as a more effective alternative. Air transport can significantly reduce the time it takes for farm produce to reach markets, which helps in maintaining freshness and minimizing spoilage. This approach is not just about improving logistical efficiency; it is also seen as crucial for Nigeria’s economic diversification. As pointed out in a THISDAY article, Nuhu Imam Adam, former General Manager of Business Development at the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), emphasizes the need to reevaluate our approach to agro perishable goods transportation.
Experts in the field, such as Amos Akpan, as mentioned in THISDAY, advocate for streamlined export processes at Nigerian airports. A unified electronic system for export-related documentation would not only enhance efficiency but also elevate the global competitiveness of Nigerian agricultural exports.
Furthermore, as Dr. Kingsley Nwokoma pointed out in THISDAY, air freighting stands as the optimal method for transporting farm produce, ensuring freshness upon arrival at markets. However, the shift to air freight comes with its challenges, notably the cost factor. Air freighting is generally more costly than road transport. Addressing this challenge involves both infrastructure development and policy interventions to make air freight a feasible option for a wider segment of the agricultural sector.
Moreover, meeting international standards in packaging and certification is essential for accessing global markets. As Dr. Nwokoma notes in THISDAY, compliance with these standards is crucial for the successful export of agricultural products.
Adding to these developments, several opportunities exist:
- Development of Cold Chain Logistics: Implementing an effective cold chain logistics network can drastically reduce post-harvest losses and maintain the quality of perishables. This creates an opportunity for logistics companies to invest in refrigerated storage facilities and transportation
- Innovative Packaging Solutions: Developing and utilizing innovative packaging that extends the shelf life of produce can be a game-changer. This opens up new business avenues for packaging companies and provides farmers with better options to preserve their produce during transportation.
- Technology Integration**: Utilizing technology for tracking and managing the supply chain can enhance the efficiency of the logistics process. Opportunities lie in developing software and apps that provide real-time tracking, inventory management, and data analytics for farmers and traders.
- Expansion of Export Services: The establishment of streamlined export services, as discussed by industry experts, can facilitate easier and more efficient entry into international markets. This includes services for handling customs clearance, export documentation, and compliance with international standards.
- Training and Capacity Building: There is a significant opportunity in training and equipping local farmers and traders with the knowledge and skills necessary for handling and preparing produce for air freight. This includes best practices in packaging, handling, and complying with export regulations.
- Public-Private Partnerships: Collaborations between the government and private sector in logistics infrastructure development can lead to significant improvements. Investments in airport cargo facilities, logistics parks, and transportation networks are areas ripe for public-private partnerships.
By addressing transportation and logistical challenges, and capitalizing on these opportunities, Nigeria and the West African region can significantly improve market access for its agricultural produce. This not only benefits the agricultural sector but also contributes to the overall economic development of the country, enhancing Nigeria’s position in the global agricultural market.