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.
However, despite the increase recorded in export, imported agricultural goods surged by 78.58% in 2020 compared to 2019. Nigeria imported agricultural goods worth N1.71 trillion in 2020 as against N959.5 billion in 2019.
This is according to data tracked by Nairametrics Research from the foreign trade quarterly reports, released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
In spite of crude oil, 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, production hurdles have significantly impeded the expected growth. 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.
In line with this, it is pertinent to consider the major agricultural products that fetched Nigeria significant cash in 2020, in order to make adequate preparations towards maximising the country’s export potentials.
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.
In 2020, Nigeria exported sesame seed abroad to the tune of N98.27 billion. The highest quarterly export was recorded in Q1 2020 (N39.63 billion), before the heat of the pandemic, while the lowest was recorded in Q3 2020 (N15.59 billion).
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.
The fruit is an egg-shaped red-to-brown pod that contains about 30 to 40 seeds, each of which is surrounded by a bitter-sweet white pulp. When the seeds are dried and fermented in the sun, they turn brownish red and are known as cocoa beans, which is the principal ingredient of chocolate.
In the year under review, Nigeria exported different variants of cocoa products to a sum of N87.44 billion. Good fermented Nigerian cocoa exported in 2020 was estimated at N45.36 billion, followed by superior quality raw cocoa beans at N36.53 billion, and natural cocoa butter at N3.52 billion.
Other variants of the cocoa product exported by Nigeria in 2020 include; other quality raw cocoa beans at N1.56 billion, other butter of cocoa and deodorised cocoa (N279 million) and roasted cocoa beans worth N190 million.
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.
In confectionery and bakery products, for example, kernels are used in the production of ice creams, chocolates, cakes, and sweets. Cashew nut shell liquid has also been used in making medicine used for treating various illnesses.
In 2020, Nigeria exported cashew nuts valued at N45.88 billion, with the highest quantity recorded in Q2 2020. The breakdown of cashew nut export shows that cashew nuts, in shell that was exported in the review year was N38.36 billion, while that which is shelled was valued at N7.52 billion.
Frozen foods – N7.78 billion
Nigeria exported various frozen food items in the year 2020, valued at N7.78 billion. Among the frozen food items exported in the period as stated by the National Bureau of Statistics were, other frozen shrimps and prawns, valued at N5.43 billion.
Frozen rock lobster and other sea crawfish (Palinurus spp, Panulirus spp, Jasus spp) stood at N1.98 billion while Hake (Merluccius spp, Urophycis spp), and frozen meat exported was valued at N374 million.
Shea – N6.47 billion
Shea fruits and nuts are “non-timber forest products” that are gathered annually during the shea tree fruiting season that extends from May to September. Shea fruits have an encompassed kernel and nut.
Oil and associated by-products are obtained from crushing the nuts, and these oils are used in creating shea butter, which is further used in making cooking oil, skin and hair moisturizer, soap, waterproof sealant for home walls, lamp fuel, and many more.
It is worth noting that Nigeria exported Shea nuts valued at N6.14 billion in 2020, while shea cake export stood at N337 million in the year under review.
Ginger – N6.15 billion
Sesame oil – N4.83 billion
Soya – N3.53 billion
Coconuts – N3.36 billion
Flower – N1.58 billion
Why this matters
Nigeria is a country immensely blessed with rich soil texture idle for the practice of crop production; however, we are unable to produce as much for our domestic consumption not to mention receiving adequate export value for our agro products.
It is no news that there is an international demand for most of Nigeria’s agro products; however, Nigeria spends more importing agricultural products from other countries.
Some of the major bottlenecks impeding the expected growth in the agricultural sector, despite huge monetary interventions in the sector in recent years, include logistic problems, infrastructure, amongst others.
According to a PWC report on the current state of Nigeria’s agriculture and agribusiness sector, Nigeria has significantly poor transport infrastructure and services (road and rail), particularly in the rural areas.
It also identifies the lack of cold chain logistics as a factor contributing to the decrease in trade capacity through losses from spoilage and impinged time to market.
The limited capacity of Nigeria’s seaport has also affected the ease of cross-border trade.
Finally, there is a need for Nigeria to improve its agricultural production so as to tap into the large foreign exchange that could come into the country through the export of these items.