NIGERIA – Dutch-funded initiative HortiNigeria has joined forces with Greenport Nigeria, an independent agricultural advancement organization, to reshape the landscape of horticultural production in the country.

The partnership, solidified through a recent memorandum of understanding signing at the Dutch Consulate in Lagos, aims to elevate the sector through technical cooperation, holistic farmer training, market linkages, financial accessibility, renewable energy solutions, and policy advocacy.

Mohammed Salasi Idris, the program director for HortiNigeria, highlighted the significance of the collaboration: “This alliance with Greenport marks a significant leap forward for the horticulture sector.”

“Through the adoption of innovative technologies and sustainable practices, we aim to unlock the immense potential of the several value chain actors, steering them towards a future of better livelihoods.”

Richard Ogundele, the executive chairman at Greenport Nigeria, expressed optimism for the partnership’s outcomes: “Facilitating the formation of a platform for greenhouse business operators in Nigeria to network, collaborate, and improve access to technology and innovation is a key aspect.”

Greenport, as part of the collaboration, will contribute to capacity-building efforts and the upscaling of innovative practices among established hubs of entrepreneurial farmers.

Ogundele noted that the partnership with HortiNigeria aligns with Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 1, 2, 3, and 8, promising increased crop yields, reduced environmental footprint, improved agricultural practice efficiency, and expanded market reach.

Geoffrey van Leeuwen, Dutch minister for foreign trade and development cooperation, emphasized the importance of the Memorandum of Understanding in introducing innovative solutions to aid agribusinesses: “Together, we aim to secure a future characterized by healthy food options, healthy agribusiness opportunities, and healthy investment prospects, bringing food from the farms to the markets in densely populated urban regions.”

HortiNigeria’s goal is to contribute to small farmers’ social capital and empower them within the market, further solidifying the commitment to sustainable agricultural practices.

Nigerian importers seek alternatives as customs exchange rate soars

Meanwhile, in response to the continuous increase in Customs exchange rates for clearing imported items at Nigerian seaports and airports, local importers are diverting their shipments to sea terminals in Tema, Ghana; Port of Lome, Togo; and Port of Cotonou, Benin Republic.

The decision comes as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) relentlessly adjusts the exchange rates for cargo clearance.

Importers, grappling with a decline in business activities, report a 35% drop in importation into the country. Notably, between 60 to 80 containers undergo examination daily, a stark contrast to the 200 to 250 containers examined in 2023.

The CBN’s multiple adjustments in the exchange rate, soaring from N422.30/USD 1 to N1,356.883/USD 1 within a short timeframe, have prompted importers to explore more favorable foreign exchange environments.

The sharp depreciation of the local currency, the naira, has led to concerns among importers, with some choosing to divert their cargo to neighboring ports.

Expressing the urgency of the situation, Olubayo Akinlosotu, a prominent clearing agent, remarked, “Importers are leaving the country in droves, as cargoes will now be smuggled into the country through the nation’s porous borders. The abandonment of Nigerian ports is primarily due to the high foreign exchange rate.”

Lucky Amiwero, the National President of the National Council of Managing Director of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), labeled the trend as ‘importers Japa,’ signifying the growing exodus of importers seeking more favorable conditions elsewhere.

For all the latest fresh produce industry news updates from Africa, the Middle East, and the World, subscribe to our NEWSLETTER, follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn, like us on Facebook, and subscribe to our YouTube channel.