A PART from oil and metals, agricultural produce come next as Nigeria’s biggest exports to foreign countries. We export cocoa, palm oil cassava, cashew nuts, among others. It is funny that due to the fact that we cannot process these commodities at home, we export them raw, and the Europeans and Asians process the raw commodities we sell to them, and they send them back to our country to sell.
If we look at it, these Europeans and Asians gain more through processing than what we gain when we export our raw agricultural commodities. A good example is cocoa, which we sell its raw beans, but we import cocoa beverages and chocolates.
Now, at a time when we are talking about diversification of the economy, we should focus on adding value to our agricultural produce through processing instead of exporting them raw. For example, cocoa and cashew nuts can be made into final products.
What we will gain processing our agricultural produce for local consumption, and even export, will be greater than what we will gain exporting the raw commodities. Our farmers will also make more money, as they will not be subjected to the global price of commodities which fluctuate every now and then.
In the case of cassava, which is our staple food, instead of exporting the commodity to China to be used in feeding animals, we can make cassava flour for bread and garri from it. Cassava is also being used to make beer in the country today.
The administration of former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan worked extensively on using cassava to make bread, but the idea just didn’t fly among Nigerians due to the fact that there are few companies that can process cassava into flour in the country.
Achieving economic success is just a matter of right thinking, and what I am discussing is something that can make our economy to thrive.
While it is important to export, so as to balance the trade between Nigeria and other countries, it is also important to process our agricultural commodities for local consumption. As a result, we should put a ban on export of agricultural produce, while focusing on solid minerals and services’ exports.
As said earlier, to develop the economy only needs the right thinking, as well as the political will, and I hope the current economic managers in the country can look into my submission.
- Prof Aina Akinola,