No less than 150 vegetable farmers and business owners involved in the horticulture value chain have received training from the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) Ogun State Coordination Office on the rules and processes for exporting horticultural products to the United Kingdom.
The NEPC collaborated with the Ogun State Cooperative Federation to host the one-day course with the theme “Harnessing Horticultural Market Possibilities in the UK: Through Quality Regulation” (OGSCOFED).
The State Coordinator of the NEPC, Mrs. Francisca Odega, stated during the opening session of the training that the main goal of the workshop was to expose the farmers and entrepreneurs in horticulture to the current market demands and quality requirements for horticultural produce in the UK, among other things. The training was held at the OGSCOFED Hall, Asero, Abeokuta, the capital of Ogun State.
She continued by saying that another goal of the initiative was to raise awareness of the high standard that Nigerian horticulture products meet on a global scale.
Mrs. Odega pointed out that Nigeria was missing out on the multibillion dollar market for fruits and vegetables in the UK, Europe, and America; as a result, it was necessary to inform the sector’s stakeholders about the enormous commercial potential.
She stated that pre-shipment inspection agencies found a significant increase in export proceeds from 2017 to 2021, from $1.2 billion to $3.4 billion, compared to an average annual importation of $22 billion of food into the nation. She made the point that the country must work to close the deficit by utilizing the new dimension in export business, particularly in horticulture.
She stated that in order to compete with their counterparts in Cote D’Ivoire, Ghana, Cameron, and Kenya in the export of vegetables and fruits, farmers and exporters of horticultural products in the nation, particularly in Ogun State, needed training and experience.
She did say, however, that buyers of the produce had been found in the UK, in addition to the incentives the NEPC had put together to encourage and motivate exporters of fruits and vegetables in the nation.
Dr. (Mrs.) Badmus, a resource person from NIHORT, noted in her presentation titled “Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) for Harnessing Horticulture Market Opportunities Through Quality Regulation” that Nigerian farmers had suffered greatly when exporting their goods, and she added that the safety and quality of horticultural produce must meet with the international standard and procedures.
She listed several difficulties with horticultural production in Nigeria, including weak regulatory oversight, vulnerability to pests and diseases, and post-harvest losses.