As Nigeria tries to shift the weight of its economic dependence away from crude oil and on to more stable and sustainable pillars, agriculture has become an attractive revenue generation option for the private and public sector. The government proclaims and urges, through press releases and policy statements, that the country is taking off on the wings of greens and livestock, and leaving the petro-dollar era behind. In communities across the nation, many are rediscovering the joys and profit of sowing and reaping, and are making a living from the sale of produce from their farms. We might be on the cusp of an agricultural boom…
The latest report on Nigeria’s international trade published by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on Monday, December 11, suggests that Nigeria has a long way to go before it weans itself off oil money. The report covers the period July to September 2017. Although the country is getting more money from its exports than it is spending on imports, crude oil revenues account for a staggering 83.17% of the total income it made from exports. Non-oil exports only contributed 3.54% of the total revenue from products sold to other countries between the months of July and September (third quarter of the year 2017).
However, there’s still some good news. The NBS’s report also showed that a number of agricultural exports from the country were still doing quite well on the international markets. In this article, we’ll round up the country’s top ten agricultural exports, as seen in the international trade report. You may find that one or more of these products presents a business opportunity that you can take advantage of.
- Sesame seeds
Sesamum seeds (broken and not broken) raked in the greatest revenue of Nigeria’s agricultural products for the third quarter of the year 2017. The country gained ₦5.67 billion from the sale of the tiny seeds to the world.
States which produce sesame in Nigeria include Benue, Jigawa, Nasarawa, Kano, Katsina, Yobe, and Kogi. Japan imports more sesame from Nigeria than from any other country; Nigeria also sells its sesame to China, Turkey, and India.
- Frozen shrimps and prawns
These crustaceans made Nigeria ₦4.77 billion richer in the period July-September.
Shrimps abound in the waterways of the Niger Delta, and in the coastal areas stretching through the South West’s lower end. Top importers of frozen shrimp include the United States, the European Union, and Japan. There’s also evidence of an increased interest in other parts of the world.
This protein-rich legume gave the country ₦3.27 billion in the third quarter of 2017.
Benue state produces much of Nigeria’s soybeans output. Other soybean producing states are Kaduna, Niger, Nasarawa, Kebbi, Oyo, Taraba and Sokoto. The world’s biggest importers of the legume are China, the European Union, Vietnam and Indonesia.
- Cashew nuts
Unshelled cashew nuts are also reported to have done well in the international markets. Nigeria is one of the biggest producers of cashew. A large proportion of the country’s cashew nuts are consumed locally, but there’s always a portion that gets exported- enough to have made the country over ₦3 billion in three months.
Kwara, Kogi, Ekiti, Osun and Oyo are key cashew nut producing states. Top importers are Vietnam (which buys a substantial amount of the product from Nigeria), India, and the Republic of Benin.
- Soybean flour and meal
Ground soybean, whether meant for consumption by humans or livestock, is one of Nigeria’s main agricultural exports. There’s a big demand for processed soybeans from the EU, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Thailand.
According to the NBS’s international trade report, exports of soybean flour and meal brought in revenues of over ₦1 billion for the country in the three months covered by the report.
- Cut flowers and flower buds
Most people don’t associate Nigeria with the export of ornamental flowers (Kenya comes more readily to mind as Africa’s top exporter of this product). But there’s still space to be filled in the production and supply space for flowers, and Nigeria is making gains from taking a position in this market. Between July and September, ₦639 million came to the country from exports of cut flower and flower buds.
Flower importing countries include the United States, Germany, Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and France.
Available data suggest that in 2015, Nigeria was the world’s third-largest exporter of crushed ginger and fourth largest exporter of non-crushed ginger. The produce still features prominently on the list of Nigeria’s major agricultural exports.
Revenues from ginger exports in Q3 of 2017 were put at ₦366 million by the NBS.
- Cotton lint
Nigeria isn’t one of the world’s most prominent exporters of cotton, but it has the potential to produce more. At the moment, states such as Kano, Kaduna, Oyo, Katsina, Jigawa, Kwara and Kebbi lead the rest of the country in the production of cotton.
Between July and September, about ₦351 million was realized from the sale of Nigerian cotton lint to other countries. Top importers of cotton lint are Bangladesh, Vietnam, China, Turkey and Indonesia (all countries with large textile industries).
- Gum Arabic
Gum arabic is basically sap extracted from acacia trees. Because of its adhesive properties, it is valued as an emulsifying agent, and used in pharmaceutical, food and beverage, as well as cosmetic and confectionary products.
About ₦144 million was made from the export of gum arabic by Nigeria in the third quarter of 2017. Major destinations for the product are India, Japan, UK, France, Germany, Spain and China.
Green peas or pigeon peas are grown in states ranging from Kaduna in the North, to Ebonyi in the South East. Most global exports of this pulse are said to be bought by India; the UK and Peru are other significant importers of green peas.
Revenues from pigeon pea exports for the period July-September 2017 totalled ₦130.9 million.