Nigeria is building cargo terminals at 12 airports to help boost export of farm produce, said Yakubu Dati, general manager of the airports authority.
“Our airports are being rebuilt to provide means for exporting perishable and non-perishable agricultural output to remove waste, save time” and increase farmers’ income, Dati said in a Jan. 24 interview. The Lagos-based Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, also known as FAAN, is working with farmers’ groups and airlines to identify and serve foreign markets, he said.
After building the terminals, private investors will provide refrigeration services, air transport and other facilities for export, helping to support agriculture, according to Dati. Products expected to benefit include peanuts, tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, mangoes and carrots, he said.
Africa’s most populous country of more than 160 million people is seeking to reduce dependence on oil exports, which account for about 80 percent of government revenue and more than 95 percent of export income. Nigeria plans to increase food production by 20 million metric tons by 2015 by providing land, funding and infrastructure and save the $10 billion spent on food imports every year, according to the Agriculture Ministry.
Nigeria wants to increase cargo throughput at its airports, now dominated by passenger traffic, as part of efforts to increase airport revenue threefold, Aviation Minister Stella Oduah, said on Jan 21.
Cargo transported through the nation’s 22 airports declined 11 percent to 78.6 million kilograms (173 million pounds) for the six months through June 2012, compared with a year ago, with exports representing 22 percent, or 17 million kilograms, according to the most recent data obtained from FAAN. Passenger movement declined 4 percent to 6.8 million with 3.5 million, or 58 percent, leaving the country.
“We have a situation at present where cargo planes fly into the country and fly out empty,” Dati said. “FAAN has created a cargo department which underscores the importance it attaches to the project.”
Apart from building cargo terminals, the aviation ministry and FAAN plan to reconstruct all the airports in the country and build five new international airport terminals this year, each meeting the International Civil Aviation organization standards, he said.
Cargo shipments will benefit from improved aviation security with the deployment of anti-terrorist police and an increase in the number of scanners and sniffer dogs at the country’s airports, Dati said.