Despite the usual negatives in Nigeria and successive governments’ policy inconsistencies hindering the prosperity of the citizens, global traders are scrambling for the country’s agricultural commodities, raw materials, solid minerals, and even manufactured products.
It may interest to know that traders from many countries fly into Nigeria to buy some of the commodities and products ignored by the citizens and companies.
It is also interesting to learn that a lot of export business is going on unnoticed and un-captured, underlining the fact that few eagle-eyed Nigerians are tapping opportunities outside the borders of the Nigerian market, even though they are not reckoned with.
For instance, BDSUNDAY’s calculations of the International Trade Centre (ITC) data show that between 2009 and 2013, $46.19 billion worth of exports from Nigeria were not captured by government-appointed agencies charged with this responsibility.
The ITC takes record of non-oil export volumes from each country at the point of arrival. The difference between the ITC data and figures obtained from Federal Government-appointed agents charged with the task of doing non-oil export calculation, therefore, is that while the ITC calculates exports at the point of arrival, the local agencies do so at the point of exit. Hence there is always a huge gap between numbers from the two sets of institutions. In fact, experts, including Olusegun Awolowo, CEO of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), believe that the ITC data are more authentic, given that more exports are done informally.
At the moment, official non-export figures from South-west states of the country are collated by Carmine Assayer Limited, while Neroli Technologies Limited is in charge of non-oil products leaving the country from South-south and South-east states.
Cobalt International Services Limited takes care of the non-oil products leaving the country from the North.
With the Nigerian economy in desperate need of dollars and the exchange rate going above N470/$, now is the best time to consider exporting products to countries that need them.
In its usual manner, therefore, BDSUNDAY has investigated and come up with products from Nigeria needed at the international market and the countries that need them.
Cocoa is Nigeria’s flagship export product. It is currently in high demand in the Netherlands, China, Italy, Turkey, Germany, Vietnam and Spain.
In West Africa, cocoa is also in high demand in Benin Republic, Burkina Faso, Senegal and Gambia. Up to 25 to 30 percent of Nigeria’s total non-oil commodities (including products) leaving the country are cocoa and its preparations, according to successive data obtained from the Nigerian Export Promotion Council.
As confirmed by cocoa farmers who spoke with BDSUNDAY, cocoa from Nigeria is in high demand in Europe and the United States because industries use it to manufacture chocolates, whose market size is $98 billion globally. It is also consumed by pregnant women as it supports lactation, and helps in the production of cocoa power, which is a billion-dollar industry.
Sayina Rima, president, Cocoa Association of Nigeria, told BDSUNDAY that farmers are benefiting from cocoa export now, despite the drop in the country’s output.
“Exporters used to buy from farmers at N650,000 per tonne, but local cocoa farmers now sell a tonne for about N1.2 million,” Rima said.
Shoes and leather
Many Nigerians may reason that locally-made shoes are substandard, but the level of patronage of Nigerian leather and footwear in the international market is awesome. Fata Tanning Limited exported only leather worth $37.7 million in 2015, as against export valued at $65.3 million it did in the previous year. In 2015, Italy bought leather from Nigeria, including footwear, worth $188.86 million. It is also cheery news that Niger Republic bought $2.5 million worth of leather and shoes from Nigeria. Togo paid $7.5 million to have Nigeria’s leather and shoes in 2015.
Other West African countries that are ready to pay for footwear and leather from Nigeria are Ghana and Burkina Faso, according to data from the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria Export Group (MANEG).
Tunde Oyelola, chairman, MANEG, told this newspaper that bathroom slippers from Nigeria are in high demand in Burkina Faso.
Other countries outside West Africa that need leather and animal skins from Nigeria include the Netherlands, Spain, France, Turkey, Germany, and India.
If you are a herdsman in Nigeria, consider selling animal skins. Animal skins from Nigeria have excellent quality and are considered good by European shoe producing firms.
In fact, shoemakers in Aba told BDSUNDAY that they can no longer buy animal skins from Northern Nigeria because shrewd traders in the area prefer to sell them to European traders, who use it to produce shoes. If you are a herdsman, sell your animal skins outside Nigeria to earn dollars and euros, instead of selling it directly to European traders who would prefer to come into the country to buy.
This may sound awkward but Nigerian grains, oil seeds, and vegetables sell like cakes in the Netherlands, USA, China, India, Italy, Germany, Vietnam, Canada, and Spain.
The Netherlands, for instance, spent $8.2 million buying these commodities from Nigerian exporters in 2015, but China spent a whopping $29 million buying them the same year. While India spent $4 million on them, Vietnam spent $6.4 million.
These countries consume a lot of vegetables, grains and plants. In fact, they use some of the plants here to produce drugs, say experts.
The major sources of edible seed oils are soybeans, sunflowers, rapeseed, cotton and peanuts, seed oils from flax and castor beans.
Countries like China, India, US, and Germany use these commodities to produce paints, varnishes, printing inks, erasers, coating, and plastics. According to Canadian Dictionary, oilseed meals from soybeans, peanuts, rapeseed and flaxseed are rich in protein, and they provide nutritionally balanced feeds. They can also be used as animal feeds.
If you cannot export to Europe or Asia, you may also do so to Ghana, Ivory Coast, Togo, and Benin Republic. These countries always buy these commodities from Nigeria in large quantity. Nigerians in the Diaspora provide a big market for these commodities as well.
Do you know that India buys aluminium scraps from Nigeria? China is also a big buyer of aluminium packs and steel products from Nigeria. In 2015 alone, India bought aluminium worth $11 million from Nigeria, according to the NEPC data.
Do you have a plastic plant or are connected to a plastic firm? Read this and have a re-think. Plastic cans you throw away after taking your beverages are worth millions of dollars. China paid $1.4 million to have them from Nigeria in 2015. Germany, Vietnam, the Netherlands, and India gave Nigerian importers thousands of dollars to have them.
If you cannot sell to these countries, then sell to your neighbours in Ghana, who paid $5.4 million in 2015 to have them; Niger, $2.6 million; and Burkina Faso, $2.6 million. You can also sell to Gambia, Guinea, Togo and Ivory Coast in West Africa. Also try Egypt.
Lead is needed in the Netherlands, China, Germany and Spain.
Soap/scouring and dental products/modelling pastes
There is an assumption that Nigerian cosmetics products are not good enough in the global market. This is not supported by facts.
Export stats in Nigeria show that soaps, toothpastes, scouring powder and even waxes from Nigeria are highly demanded in Ghana.
“I sell cosmetics in Ghana. All I can tell you is that Nigerian products are preferred by Ghanaians,” said Okechukwu Ijoke, a Kumasi-based Nigerian trader.
Ghana spent close to $6 million on Nigerian toothpastes, soaps and pomades in 2015. Other countries that also patronise Nigerian cosmetics in West Africa are Liberia, Benin, Guinea, Mali and Senegal. It is not advisable to export these products to Europe or America as they have superior cheap cosmetics produced by local manufacturers.
It is important to stress that you can export these to Nigerians in Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Japan, Turkey, China, India and the Netherlands.
Apart from Nigerians, the Chinese, Indians, Germans and the Dutch eat these fruits, according to Nigerians abroad who spoke with BDSUNDAY.