The Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, SAN, over the weekend, said the multi billion naira Export Packaging and Processing Centre, built by the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company PLC (NAHCO) in Lagos, would increase Nigeria export numbers and also mitigate challenges against perishable exports in the country.
Speaking at the commissioning of the Export Processing and Packaging centre in Lagos, Keyamo stated that issues around the shelf-life of crops, temperature control, packaging, handling and regulatory compliance is now a thing of the past.
Keyamo who was represented by the Managing Director, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Mrs Olubunmi Kuku, said the facility would impact positively on the nation’s balance of payment position and strengthen the Naira.
He said, “Nigeria currently stands at a crucial juncture, as the export business offers immense opportunities for economic growth and development. This is why I am most excited that this facility’s opening for business. With the equipment, expertise and offices here, most of the challenges of exporting perishable goods will be highly mitigated.
“Issues around the shelf-life of the crops, temperature control, packaging, handling and regulatory compliance will be a thing of the past. In a world where revenue growth is key, I want to assure NAHCO that we will continue to support them in this and other ventures.”
However, he urged exporters and other stakeholders to take advantage of the new facility to facilitate export trade.
“It is my hope that exporters and other stakeholders will take full advantage of this facility to boost Nigeria’s export numbers, which will impact positively on our balance of payment position and strengthen the Naira. It is in furtherance of this goal that the FAAN been promoting Cargo Development and even set up a committee to identify the challenges in Cargo facilitation, especially on export.
“To emphasise the importance of freighting, the Minister in his wisdom decided to create the Cargo Services Directorate in FAAN. It is designed to ameliorate the problems in the sector and bring innovative ideas to life,” he stated.
Also speaking, the board chairman of NAHCo, Dr Seinde Fadeni, said the firm decide to build the facility because there are lot of foreign exchange Nigeria can earn through food export.
Fadeni who said such facility existed only in NAHCO, however, called on government to liberalise the sector from numerous challenges burdening it.
“Our only request to government on this occasion would be that; should we need your support in our quest to move aviation forward in Nigeria in our own little way, please be there for us. At NAHCO, we firmly believe that there is a lot of foreign exchange that Nigeria can earn through food exports. We have come to lead the charge. We would need the government to give us all the support we need.
“The livelihood and indeed prosperity of many Nigerians depend on the export of perishables. Government should summon a meeting of all relevant stakeholders to deliberate on the best way to move this segment forward. And to all our stakeholders, the airlines, the agents, exporters, farmers, I tell you this today: NAHCO is read for export business. You cannot get this facility anywhere else in Nigeria. It is built with you in mind. I urge you to use it.”
Speaking earlier, the group managing director, NAHCO, Indranil Gupta, said exports bring about economic development by way of earning Foreign Exchange and also helps the domestic economy by generating jobs.
Gupta, said proper processing and packaging facilities are crucial to the endeavor of reaching the products to their various destinations.
“Non-oil exports play a pivotal role in strengthening the economic might of our great nation. Exports bring about economic development by way of earning Forex and also helps the domestic economy by generating jobs, thereby putting money into the pockets of our countrymen.
“Moreover, Export has the potential of impacting a nation’s image, as a nation gets to be known by the products they export. The biggest example of this phenomenon is China. The EPPC has office spaces for regulatory bodies and various government agencies. Also, we remain dedicated to maintaining collaborative relationships with cargo agents, who are valued clients of the facility.
“The, ever increasing, Nigerian diaspora is playing a pivotal role in popularising the Nigerian’s agricultural produce, globally. Proper processing and packaging facilities are crucial to the endeavor of reaching those products to them. While there is tremendous potential for air freight in transportation of perishables, there is an increasing need for Nigeria to invest in better packaging facilities that meet global standards. This Export Processing and Packaging Centre is our contribution towards major response to meet this need as a nation,” he stated.