16 January 2019

Nigeria: More Export Cargoes Driven By Unemployment - Shipping Agents

Feelers from shipment agents indicate that there is increasing patronage from exporters as more Nigerians are venturing into export business.

Vanguard Maritime Report gathered that the products exported mostly by these new set of exporters are Charcoal, Hibiscus (popularly referred to as Zobo), dried fish, Cashew nut, farm produce and cocoa amongst others.

While some stakeholders welcomed the development, others are of the opinion that the new trend have led to a hike in the cost of the items for local consumers.

In some cases, they noted, the cost of some of the products have become higher than the international market price but Nigerians keep buying in the hope for a price surge.

Chairman of the Cross Rivers State Shippers Association, Michael Ogodo, who confirmed this to Vanguard Maritime Report, said the situation is true regarding the export of Cocoa in that state.

Ogodo disclosed that cocoa output in the state is lower than the quantity the exporters are scrambling for.

According to him, "There is something I can see very clear and I like to be challenged. As a result of the slump in the Nigerian economy generally, a lot of Nigerians now crowd into exports business and people take unnecessary risks in the hope that future would be better.

"Particularly, like in the cocoa industry, they are killing themselves; there are more traders than farmers in the Nigerian cocoa sector. Check it out; there are more traders, more buyers, those who are trading in the cocoa are more than those who are producing. Number of traders is increasing by the day but Nigerian cocoa production is stalling.

"In Cross River state where I am operating from, I can confirm that not less than 80 per cent of the cocoa in the state today is derived from Republic of Cameroon and I have tried to say that we should go and develop that market.

"This has been the trend in the last four to five years. Cameroon that bordered Nigeria will prefer to bring their cocoa to Nigeria to Ikom (the center of cocoa trade in Criss River) than to their own ports which are a longer distance and have bad road, and of course they are English speaking people.

"More than 80 per cent of cocoa coming in Nigeria are from Cameroon but the other statement I made is that our cocoa production in Nigeria has been in decline but because of lack of other opportunities, we have had all manner of persons going into buying and selling. So most of the times you see local prices are higher than the export prices."

However, a Board of Trustee member of the Shippers Association of Lagos State, SALS, Nichodemus Idolo, said that there has been a drop in the volume of export presently because of the traffic congestion in Apapa, Lagos.

Idolo explained that the traffic situation is costing exporters more to ship their goods out of the country through the ports in Lagos.

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