The Nigerian Aviation Handling Company Plc (NAHCO Aviance), as part of the expansion of its agricultural export business, is supporting the government’s transition to a non-oil economy through the provision of infrastructure to boost food export businesses. This could be the tonic to galvanise other private sector operators to key into the Federal Government’s ongoing economic diversification agenda.
A fresh impetus has come the way of the Federal Government’s ongoing diversification campaign.
By expanding its agric export business, backed by top-of-the-range infrastructure, the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company Plc (NAHCO Aviance) may have set the stage for other private sector operators to provide the much-needed infrastructure to boost food export business and drive diversification.
Essentially, NAHCO, a cargo ramp and passenger handling firm in the air transport value chain, is providing facilities that will encourage cold storage management.
Its Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Mrs. Tokunbo Fagbemi, said the company was creating cold storage hub for existing and potential clients, including its new clients that want to trans-ship their goods through Nigeria with a bit of packaging.
Fagbemi, who spoke to reporters during the week, said: “Our findings from the airlines revealed that a lot of agricultural products exported are destroyed by the time they get to their destinations, which is largely caused by inadequate storage facilities.
“We just got an approval to develop a facility in our packaging warehouse, which will tackle that challenge because it will help exporters to package their products at a particular temperature rate to reduce the incidence of rejection in the international markets.”
The NAHCO boss, who said the company’s agric export business, has a huge potential as it is one of the pet projects of the new management, stated that the company wants to provide a CEIV Pharma, which, according to her, is a project designed by International Air Transport Association (IATA) to support the movement of pharmaceutical products via air.
“What that means is that at every point of the movement of the goods, whether vaccines or drugs, the temperature is maintained,” Fagbemi.
That is not all. NAHCO, she said, is also expanding its processing area. “Most of our processes are governed by treaties signed by security regulations. So, what we do is go back, look at all these processes and run our warehouse the best way we can,” she added.
Fagbemi agreed with the Federal Government that agriculture must be seen as a business and haven for investment. She, however, said there was the need to integrate food production, storage, food processing and industrial manufacturing to establish the linkage necessary in the agricultural commodity value chain.
According to her, the value chain must consider the role of players from food production to consumption and design to empower the small holder producers to ensure that processors have good quality products for consumption.
“Our new equipment and technology would enable us to improve on its offerings to its clients, as NAHCO had recently invested about N1.9 billion in equipment. The overhaul would help to replace ageing equipment, which had increased maintenance cost due to high utilisation of fuel,” Mrs Fagbemi said.
The company’s Chief Operating Officer, Mr. Herbert Odika, pointed out that NAHCO’s strict adherence to global standards stands it out in its operations.
He said: “We have a duty as the leading ground handler in the West Africa sub-region to set standards. We won’t shy away from playing this leadership role in all our operations, including the way we process our exports.”
The NAHCO infrastructure intervention in its food export business bodes well for the Federal Government’s transition to a non-oil economy anchored on export of agric products.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo recently urged stakeholders to be involved in the agriculture sector as it is one of the cardinal points of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) of the Federal Government with an emphasis on developing an export-led economy.
Osinbajo said: “Our agenda is to guarantee the vibrancy of the agric sector…,” adding that the value chain must consider the role of players from food production to consumption and design to empower the small holder producers to ensure that processors have good quality products for consumption.’’