According to the reports, Nigeria’s major agricultural exports so far include palm oil, cassava, sorghum, hibiscus flower, ginger, pepper, rubber, wool, cotton, wood logs (Iroko and Mahogany), groundnut oil, garlic, sesamum seeds, cashew nuts, cocoa and its diverse by-products, shrimps and prawns, ginger and a number of other agro-foods.
Despite the steady growth in the value of Nigeria’s agriculture exports over the past years, the country’s agriculture total exports remained below 2%. Consequently, oil revenue continues to account for more than 80% of the total value of annual exports.
However, the agriculture industry contributed approximately 25% to the total GDP in 2018 while the oil sector’s share of total economic output was 8.6% over the same period. Since the agriculture sector is the largest contributor to Nigeria’s GDP, unlocking the potential of agricultural exports is key.
Between 2016 and 2018, the country’s total agriculture exports were driven by the export of sesame seeds, fermented cocoa beans, cashew nuts, ginger, crude palm kernel oil, soya beans, frozen shrimps, and prawns, among other commodities. Cumulatively, the country earned N0.53 trillion from agriculture export between 2016 and 2018. In contrast, Nigeria’s total agriculture import bill over the same period stood at N2.39 trillion. As a result, the agriculture trade deficit stood at N1.86 trillion. Thus, the country is a net food importer.
In 2016, total agriculture exports stood at N60.7 billion, or 0.7% of total exports for the period. In 2017, total agricultural exports grew by 180.7% over the previous year to close at N170.4 billion and it accounted for 1.3% of total exports. By 2018, agriculture exports increased by 77% 2017 to close at N302.3 billion and accounted for 1.6% of total exports.
The country’s total exports have been driven by crude oil exports. In 2018, crude oil exports accounted for 82.3% of total export revenues while agriculture exports accounted for just 1.6%. With the Federal Government’s intent on diversifying the economy away from oil, there has been renewed interest in the agricultural sector as a critical sector to lead the charge.
Regional destinations of Nigeria’s agricultural exports
The Asia region is the leading importer of Nigeria’s agricultural commodities. The region accounted for 59% of total exports in 2018 (2017: 52.7%). Europe – 34.5% and America – 3.6% are the second and third biggest markets for Nigeria’s agricultural goods in 2018.
However, both regions’ share of exports in 2018 dropped from 35.9% and 6.5% respectively recorded in 2017. In absolute terms, the export value of agricultural goods to Asia in 2018 grew by 167%, from N67.3 billion in 2017 to N179.6 billion.
The growth was mainly driven by demands from Japan, India, and China. Trade in agricultural goods between Nigeria and the rest of Africa is still relatively small compared to other regions of the world.
Agricultural exports to other African countries declined by 6%, from N4.1 billion in 2017 to N3.9 billion in 2018.
Primary agricultural goods exported from Nigeria
Sesame seeds, cashew nuts, fermented cocoa beans, and superior quality raw cocoa beans, with a combined total export value of N210.2 billion, accounting for 69.5% of total agriculture exports in 2018.
Nigeria’s major exported agricultural products
Below are highlights of exported agricultural products in Nigeria:
I. Sesame seeds; Nigeria is the third largest producer of sesame seeds in the world after India and China and the largest in Africa with a production capacity in excess of 1 500,000 metric tonnes as of 2017. According to the Nigerian Institute of Food Science and Technology, about 95% of sesame output in Nigeria is exported.
Together, these five countries accounted for 83.3% (2017: 75.9%) of the global total export value of sesame seeds in 2018.
In Nigeria, sesame seeds are grown mostly in Taraba, Benue, Jigawa, and Nasarawa states. Total Nigeria’s export value of sesame of N89 billion in 2018 was more than twice the value in 2017 of N41.5 billion.
China remains the largest importer of Nigeria’s sesame seeds with N26.7 billion worth of sesame seeds from Nigeria in 2018 compared to N9.6 billion purchased in 2017.
ii. Cashew nuts; According to the National Cashew Association of Nigeria (NCAN), Nigeria ranks as the sixth largest producer of cashew nuts globally with an average production capacity of 120,000 metric tons per annum. Cashew is grown in about 19 states of the country comprising: Abia, Anambra, Akwa Ibom, Benue, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Ekiti, Enugu, Imo, Kogi, Niger, Nassarawa, Ogun, Osun, Oyo, Taraba, and Kwara.
The export value of cashew nuts in Q2 2018 was N37.9 billion, representing 47.5% of the combined export value of cashew nuts for 2017 and 2018. The export value of cashew nuts was the highest among all agriculture products exported in Q2 2018.
The top export destinations of Nigerian cashew nuts are Asian countries. Vietnam and India remained the largest market for Nigerian cashew nuts.
Iii. Cocoa; Fermented and raw cocoa in West Africa accounts for about 70% of global cocoa output. Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana combined, account for more than half of the world’s total production. Nigeria is the third largest cocoa producer in Africa. Data estimates from Statistics, a statistics online portal, put the country’s total cocoa production at 245,000 tonnes in 2016/2017 which is less than one-third of Ghana’s production level.
The major export destinations of Nigeria’s fermented cocoa beans are the Netherlands, Germany, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Belgium. In 2018, the Netherlands imported N30.3 billion worth of fermented cocoa beans from Nigeria, which surpassed the combined two-year export value of the other top four importers. The significant cocoa demand from the Netherlands is driven by the boom in that country’s chocolate market fueled by the increased popularity of specialty chocolates.
Iv. Frozen shrimps and prawns; Total export value of frozen shrimps and prawns declined by 61.6% to N5.6 billion in 2018 from N14.6 billion in 2017.
Though the value of shrimps and prawns exported to the Netherlands decreased by 55.4% to N3.8 billion in 2018 from N8.6 billion in 2017, the country remains the largest market for Nigeria’s frozen shrimps and prawns, with over N12 billion worth of frozen shrimps and prawns exported to the Netherlands in the last two years. The total value of frozen shrimp and prawns exported to Belgium, Nigeria’s second-largest importer, was N0.8 billion and 2.9 billion in 2018 and 2017 respectively.
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