Port Harcourt - Professor Francis Sokoki said on Tuesday that Nigeria loses N1.6 trillion annually from non-export of groundnut, cocoa, palm oil and cotton.
Sokoki, a lecturer in the University of Port Harcourt, made this known at a lecture organised by the Rivers chapter of Fisheries Society of Nigeria (FISON).
He spoke on the topic 'Untapped opportunities of Nigerian fisheries and aquaculture for growth, food security and job creation'.
"We lost about 10 million dollars worth of annual export which amounts to about N1.6 trillion from the export of groundnut, palm oil, cocoa and cotton alone," he said.
The don recalled that in 1961, Nigeria's total annual export was 502 000 metric tonnes and responsible for 42 per cent of the world total export.
Sokoki added that the world export volume was 1 206 million metric tonnes during the period, noting that the country’s annual export in groundnut, palm, cotton and cocoa had crashed.
"If we did not lost those markets, our economy would have been higher by at least N1,6 trillion, therefore, the export will continue to grow at least by 11 per cent annually," he said.
He said Nigeria is the world leading producer of palm oil and responsible for 42 per cent of the world export, but crashed from 167,000 metric tonnes per annum to 25 000 metric tonnes.
According to him, the world annual export of palm oil is 33 361 metric tonnes, while Nigeria has controlled 18 per cent of world cocoa production.
"In cotton, our share is about 1.4 per cent, but today USA, China and Argentina have taken over groundnut production," he said.
He said Malaysia and Indonesia were world leaders in palm oil production, while Ghana and Ivory Coast were leaders in cocoa production.
Sokoki noted that the country’s export declined due to low fertiliser utilisation, saying the use was very low.
He said the world average standard fertiliser utilisation was 100kg per hectare, while Nigerian farmers used 13 kg per hectare.
Sokoki said other factors for the low production, included lack of access to improved seeds by farmers.
He noted that only about 5 per cent of the country’s farmers had access to improved seed, while 95 per cent continued with obsolete seeds that were not productive.
The lecturer said others included low government spending on agriculture and inadequate use of tractors by the country’s farmers.
Sokoki said Nigerians had no cause to suffer hunger and unemployment.
He said vast investment opportunities subsisted not only in fisheries but in many agriculture sub-sectors of the country.
"In fact, in my capacity as a university lecturer, it pains me to see some of my former students not engaged in any productive ventures years after they left university.
"This is because they are not aware of the numerous opportunities that abound within the shores of our country."