President, West Africa Specialty Coffee Association (WASCA), Larry Segun-Lean, has described Nigeria’s decline in coffee and tea exports as extremely worrisome.
While speaking at this year’s two-day World Coffee and Tea Expo held at the LCCI exhibition centre in Lagos, Larry said the sector generated less than $29 million in the last one year, a very poor number especially as other African countries with less GDP and population, do at least three times that amount on export alone.
However, he noted that their goal was to unite coffee and tea enthusiasts, professionals and industry leaders as well as transform the industry into a sustainable future.
According to him, their focus this year is to advocate for a circular economy and see how the industry can be well structured for global export and become a revenue hub for forex.
In his words: “Coffee is a regenerative commodity as it can employ hundreds of people and its consumption is beneficial. Currently, we have about 120 million African farmers engaged in coffee farming and if we can have a quarter of this number in Nigeria alone, imagine the production capacity we would have and the FX we can generate. The U.S, a well-known coffee-loving country, gets 80 per cent of its coffee from Africa but none from Nigeria. This must change.
“We have to revive coffee farming in Nigeria especially for export purposes. Personally, I know many coffee farmers that have abandoned it to do other things and it saddens me. We hope that this two-day exposition will promote coffee export in all its value chain. We need to strengthen the Naira and a major way to do this is through multiple export channels.”
Segun-Lean said WASCA has started exporting to Canada which has a growing number of Nigerians and they intend to include other countries next year.
Farmers, he stressed, must be given major incentives and taught ways to grow species and best practices for global export.
He said he hopes the seminar will provide the needed and necessary education to kick-start this necessary growth.
In his own remarks, chief executive, Goshen Marbles and National Vice President, the Nigerian Association of Small Scale Industrialists (NASSI), S.T Kuti-George, said despite the harsh economy, many opportunities still abound in the industry.
He noted that roughly 40 per cent of the world’s population consume coffee daily and it is a huge market.
“In the U.S, the number is even higher with about 60 percent of residents drinking coffee daily and 40 per cent drinking up to five cups in a day. Nigeria’s coffee ranks top among coffees in the world and has huge demand, so there is an opportunity to grow this sector for export properly,” he said.
He added that the government and relevant stakeholders have to do more because the country’s production of 117, 000 metric tonnes yearly is extremely poor and not even sufficient for local consumption, talk less of exports.
Coffee farmers, he urged, need to unite and create a coffee hub where they can share facilities, land, equipment and so on.
Meanwhile, Abiodun Matesan-Oshodi, representing the Commissioner, Ministry of Agriculture, Ruth Abisola Olusanya, on her part, said the Lagos State governor is actively partnering with coffee farmers in the state to propagate a circular economy to boost export as much as possible.