For many in the business world, Nigeria is about oil. And yet, few people know about its vast agricultural legacy. This is something the economists dubbed "the resource curse" — countries with an abundance of a natural resource have lower economic growth and more inequality because that one resource crowds it all.
In this first episode of the Trading Places, our team heads off to Nigeria to explore how a country with an abundance of oil was forced to refocus on agriculture.
We’ll meet with two international merchants working in the cashew industry and one financial journalist, analyzing the agricultural sector in this country, to talk about what it means to start your exporting business in Nigeria today, and what the future outlook of this economy looks like.
"You see these massive factories providing employment for people in Vietnam, so you kind of ask yourself, well, some of these jobs could be in those communities where this, produce comes from." — Ayodele Olajiga.
"So in the sixties and seventies, agriculture was the main driver of the Nigerian economy, but after independence, the country started focusing on oil."
"Then in 2016, when there was price volatility, the NOI price dropped and the country needed foreign exchange. So that’s how the government’s renewed interest in agriculture [came to be]." — Josephine Okojie.
"There are 101 reasons why you shouldn’t go into agriculture in Nigeria. But I can give you 102 reasons why you should."
"I was excited. I always looked at the possibilities of being in agriculture and I looked at cashews and thought it’d be a great investment to make. I’d stumbled on a gold mine that nobody was aware of. This cashew business was really good." — Shona Prest.
"Because the farming cycle is changing, the rainfall pattern is changing. Things are not what they used to be before." — Josephine Okojie.
"It is a seasonal wind that blows from the Saharah Desert and affects Nigeria during dry months." — Josephine Okojie.
"The lockdown basically shut down our entire supply chain. So we couldn’t get the produce to the supermarkets. So we had to switch to the online market, which was direct-to-consumer. For those who were exporting at the time, your containers, private stock in the ports and every day that is not moving, was losing value because it was deteriorating." — Ayodele Olajiga.
"So the first thing you need to consider is your markets. Who would you be selling to after vesting your commodity? Who would buy fom me?" — Josephine Okojie.
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