The Federal Government’s bid to boost non-oil exports has received a boost as the country will soon begin the export of pineapple in commercial quantity to Italy, Poland and other European countries. The development is the outcome of measures put in place by the Nigerian Export Promotion Council to maximise the potential of the non-oil sector through investments, capacity development, innovation and formidable partnerships. The General Manager, San Carlos Farm, Mr. Obiorah Ugwo, while speaking during a facility tour at Liberty Estate, Independent Layout, Enugu, on Tuesday by officials of NEPC, said there were huge potential for the country through the exportation of agricultural products. The 150-hectare farm is a joint venture between the Enugu State Government and Mexican farming conglomerate, San Carlos. Approved by the Enugu State Government in 2012, the JV, which is estimated to cost the sum of $29m (N4.9bn), was established for commercial production of pineapple for both local consumption and export purposes.
Ugwo said owing to the potential of the agricultural sector as a huge foreign exchange earner, the company has decided to venture into integrated farming through the introduction of banana and livestock, particularly cattle rearing.
He said, “This is a joint venture and initially, it was planned to cost about $29m and we are still operating on that even though the Naira has been unstable and the government has kept faith with their own side of the bargain and that is why the project has gone this far.
“As at December 2014, we did the test export to Italy and as at now, we have about four orders to be serviced and it depends on how we harvest from our fields.
“We have orders from Poland, Germany, two from Italy and we have so many that we are even rejecting because we cannot service them.
“On the export angle, the experience was tough because it was tough learning on the job and by now, we have got all the certification that we need courtesy of Nigerian Export Promotion Council.”
He said there was the need for the government to address some of the challenges facing the exports of the product to other countries.
The Head, Public Relations, NEPC, Mr Joe Itah, said the agency would continue to promote non-oil exports owing to the challenges faced by oil in the international market.
He said, “We have a responsibility of promoting non oil exports anchored on our cardinal point of market information and trade facilitation.
“It is through the efforts of NEPC that people would be able to see the processes that our products go through to meet the standards.
“We are also bringing synergy, and it is only in NEPC taking the lead in terms of showing them the standards to meet that we can boost non oil exports and increase inclusive growth by adding value to lives, create jobs and reduce the level of crime through youth restiveness.”