Nigeria Can Become The Food Basket Of Africa, Says Nahcoaviance GMD
The Group Managing Director of Nahcoaviance, Mr. Indira Gupta says Nigeria has the capacity to become the food basket of the entire African continent if the Nigerian producers are encouraged to carry their products to the market and facilitated by airline operators.
Speaking at a press conference over the weekend, Gupta said there was need to reach out to Nigerian farmers who have products that can be exported.
“Fufu for instance, can have a continental attraction in Africa. It has an organic attraction. I am a firm believer that Nigeria can be the food basket of this continent. The land is there. Ability of farmers to produce in volumes is there,” he said.
“I have got my board and management team to focus squarely on this. It is much more beneficial for us as a nation to be exporting than to import,” Gupta said, adding that one of the big changes he has brought into NAHCO since assumption of office on December 7, 2021 has been focus on export.
He said Nahco had established export processing centre and that the idea is to have Nigeria produce in one stop shop, get the products packaged, before transfer to the aircraft. He said the processing centre was built as part of efforts to encourage Nigerian farmers to export.
“We intend to build similar centres in five major cities in the country including Enugu, Lagos, Port Harcourt and Kano,” He said.
Gupta said about N1 billion had been invested in this project and that there was also an intention to take Kano to its former glory.
“A lot of milk in Nigeria is being imported but between Adamawa and a few northern states, there are over one million cows. Can’t they produce the needed milk?” he asked.
On his company’s expectations for 2024, Gupta said NAHCO intends to bring more airlines to Nigeria and he expressed hopes that the purchasing power in Nigeria would improve and help the export volumes.
On the review of charges in line with the current realities, Gupta said though “the naira devaluation is impacting on us significantly,” “as a responsible industry participant, our effort is to he very careful as regards review of handling charges. If the handling companies decide to review it, it would only be at a point where they cannot take the situation anymore.”
He explained that the cost of diesel, manpower and other costs had gone up because of the economic situation. He also announced that some of Nahco’s newly acquired equipment had started arriving, stating that the arrival had slowed down because of global challenges. Post covid, the industry started picking up and demand for the equipment jumped up with emergency orders being made.
“We have made all the necessary payments for acquisition,” he said.