Nigeria has recorded a significant rise in its non-oil export, with agricultural goods increasing the country's foreign exchange earnings.
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) recently reported that Nigeria recorded an export rise of 73.5 per cent in the second quarter (Q2) of this year compared to the same quarter last year.
Experts have attributed the rise to the diversification efforts of the Federal Government, with particular emphasis on non-oil exports.
Speaking on the development, the Executive Director/CEO of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Mr Olusegun Awolowo, said he is pleased with the positive trade balance recorded in the second quarter of this year, which is as a result of increase in exports.
Awolowo said cashew nuts alone earned Nigeria N13.5 billion, primarily exported to Vietnam, India and Kazakhstan, while sesame earned N7.02 billion, exported mainly to Japan, India and Turkey.
Frozen shrimps and prawns earned over N2.83 billion, exported mainly to Netherlands, Belgium, and USA while flour and meals of soya bean earned N2.31 billion, exported mainly to Spain, Ghana and Senegal.
Ginger earned N633 million, exported mainly to Vietnam, Morocco and Sudan while manufactured goods such as cigarettes containing tobacco exported to Ivory Coast, Niger and Ghana contributed significantly to the surplus trade balance.
Other manufactured goods that showed good export outing were cement exported to Niger and Chad Republics; cocoa beans and its derivatives to several countries.
He said although oil continues to dominate exports with crude accounting for 42.57 per cent and other oil products 21.86 per cent, the future of the economy is beyond oil as clearly laid out in the 'Zero Oil Agenda' which is central in the Nigerian Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (NERGP).
"As observed from the report, there are remarkable increases in volumes and value in other sectors signifying efforts at diversifying the economy through a deliberate plan. Hence, raw materials, agriculture, solid minerals and manufactured goods are witnessing Year-on-Year growth," he said.
Businesses in the non-oil sector have benefited from the Federal Government's initiatives and efforts. For instance, Trade Promotion and Facilitation activities of NEPC over the last three years working in partnership with USAID NEXTT and the cashew sector opened up new market for cashew with Vietnam.
Mr Awolowo said the lifting of the suspension of the Export Expansion Grant (EEG) and the re-activation of the Export Development Fund (EDF), will further stimulate the growth of the non-oil export sector, thereby increasing the sector's contribution to the nation's GDP.
An economist and current Head, Department of Banking and Finance, Nasarawa State University, Keffi Dr. Uche Uwaleke, told Daily Trust that the solid minerals and agriculture sectors of the economy can contribute in a large proportion in boosting Nigeria's economy and serving as an alternative to oil products in the country.
He noted that the second quarter of 2017 report on trade goods as released by the NBS recently suggest that crude oil is still heavily relied upon as the major export and source of income to the country.
"The composition of exports, in which crude oil has a disproportionate share, is still indicative of an economy that is dependent on a single product which is oil," he said.
Uwaleke added that agricultural products like ginger, soya beans, flour and meals have been generating a huge amount of money for the country as such there is a need for these products to be considered in large-scale production through funding and providing loans to farmers that can produce it in large proportion.
The don also revealed that the mineral sector can be developed to serve as an alternative for oil. Exportable minerals like sapphire, granite, marble, lead-zinc, coal, iron-ore among others are sold to some parts of the world but not in large quantities, but it is important to expand the mining sector to full capacity for a more profitable export base, he said.
He added that now that the country is out of recession, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has a positive of just 0.55 per cent and is basically driven by the oil sector which makes the economy still unbalanced.
He said inclusive growth is important to achieve a sustained economy which can only be done when key factors like agriculture and solid minerals contribute significantly.