Sesame seed, cocoa, cashew nuts top Nigeria’s agricultural exports in Q1 2021

Source: Nairametrics

Nigeria’s agricultural export stood at N127.2 billion in the first three months (January – March) of 2021. This represents a 128% increase compared to N55.8 billion recorded in the previous quarter (Q4 2020).

Sesame seeds, fermented cocoa beans, and cashew nuts led the list of top agro-food exports in Q1 2021, jointly accounting for 66.5% of the total agric exports.

This is according to the foreign trade report for Q1 2021, released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

  • In contrast to the N127.1 billion recorded in the corresponding period of 2020, this represents a 0.07% increase and the highest on our tracker, since Q1 2016.
  • However, as agric export increased in the review period, importation of agricultural items also surged by 140.5% year-on-year, and an 18.4% increase quarter-on-quarter.
  • Although crude oil still accounts for the larger part of Nigeria’s export earnings with 66.38%, agriculture still remains the base of Nigeria’s economy, providing the main source of livelihood for most Nigerians.
  • The sector remains the largest sector of the Nigerian economy and employs about two-thirds of the entire labour force in the country.

However, expected growth has been significantly impeded by production hurdles despite government interventions in the sector. According to the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations, over the past 20 years, value-added per capita in agriculture has risen by less than 1% annually.

It is also estimated that Nigeria has lost about $10 billion in annual export opportunities from groundnut, palm oil, cocoa, and cotton alone as a result of the decline in the production of these commodities.

It is worth noting that Nigeria exported agricultural products worth N321.5 billion in 2020, representing a 19.16% increase when compared to N269.8 billion recorded in 2019 and a 6.27% increase compared to N302.28 billion recorded in 2018

Top Agro export in Q1 2021

  • Sesame seeds – N41.94 billion

Top on the list is Sesame seeds with an estimated export value of N41.94 billion in Q1 2021. Sesame seed comes from a flowering plant mostly grown in Northern Nigeria due to the drought-resistant nature of the seed.

It has many uses, but perhaps, its most important use is as a source of sesame oil which is the most demanded vegetable oil in the world because of its zero cholesterol content.

Nigeria has been one of the highest sesame seed-producing countries over the years, making the seed an important component of the country’s agricultural export. Recall that Nigeria exported sesame seeds valued at N98.27 billion in 2020.

  • Cocoa beans – N35.49 billion

Cocoa stands second on the list with an export value of N35.49 billion. It is worth noting that this estimate includes good fermented Nigerian cocoa beans and superior quality raw cocoa beans.

Cocoa is a small perennial tree crop that primarily comes from the three tropical regions in the world; Southeast Asia, Latin America, and West Africa. Cote d’Ivoire is the single largest producer of cocoa beans, accounting for approximately 31% of the world’s supply.

  • Cashew nuts – N13.71 billion

Nigeria exported cashew nuts (both in-shell and shelled) valued at N13.71 billion in Q1 2021. Cashew is a tree crop that has been cultivated for food and medicine for many years.

The various parts of the cashew fruits are of economic value, which includes apple, nut, and kernel. The primary product of cashew nuts is the kernel, which is the edible portion of the nut. Kernels are used for various end products, which include chocolates, ice creams, cakes, sweets and even for medicinal purposes.

  • Coconuts – N8.66 billion

Coconut export in the review period stood at N8.66 billion, representing the fourth-highest agro-export. Coconut is a cash crop that is grown in 22 of Nigeria’s 36 states and its production is limited to the south-western part of the country, with Lagos State having the largest production area.

Coconut serves as a raw material for numerous industries, such as pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and food, and beverage, with limitless domestic and export potential; coconut consumption, however, has continued to rise with the growing population, especially dry coconut which is consumed in the northern part of the country.

  • Ginger – N5.57 billion

Ginger stands fifth on the list with an export value of N5.57 for the review period. According to FAO and quoted by the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Nigeria accounts for 40% of the global ginger production, producing almost 523,000 metric tonnes annually.

Bubbling under

  • Sesame oil – N3.42 billion
  • Palm nuts and kernels – N2.75 billion
  • Shea cake – N1.79 billion
  • Soya bean – N1.72 billion
  • Frozen shrimps and prawns – N1.29 billion

What they are saying

Despite agriculture being the major primary occupation of most Nigerians, the country is yet to solidify its position in the world in terms of food production both for local consumption and export.

  • Nigeria still spends more on the importation of agricultural items compared to our export value.
  • A PWC report identified poor transport infrastructure and services (road and rail), particularly in the rural areas as a significant cause of the current state of the agriculture and agribusiness sector.
  • According to Suleiman Dikwa, the CEO of Green Shara Farms, a major problem affecting Nigeria’s agricultural sector is the ability to efficiently deliver locally produced products in the country.
  • We have to first go beyond production and have an integrated approach through the horizontal value chain whereby any increase in production capacity has a commensurate increase in primary processing, logistics and capacity,” he added.
  • Adequate processing and storage system for these agro products is also a major problem affecting the agricultural value chain, with farmers losing about 40% of their yields to poor storage facilities, according to Mike Elechi, the CEO of Vintage Farm and Products.
  • The Chairman, Governing Council of Nigerian Institute of Transport Technology (NIIT), Mr John Onojeharho also disclosed that Nigeria loses about N3.7 trillion annually due to improper storage of foods. He said this while speaking on the topic: “Cold Chain Logistics” at the 8th Nigeria Annual Transport Lecture.

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