WTO, ITC support Nigerian businesses to benefit from food safety, value addition, digital trade

13 March 2024
ITC News

Nigerian agribusinesses, especially those in the cowpeas and sesame seeds value chains, are set to improve their food safety standards and increase in-country value addition, enabling them to access new markets, with the launch of a project by the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the International Trade Centre (ITC).

The Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment of Nigeria will lead the $1.2 million project on ‘Improving SPS Compliance to Boost Export Capacity of Nigeria’, funded by the  Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF), in close collaboration with ITC and WTO, as well as the private sector.

Nigeria has 40 million small businesses, responsible for roughly 8 in 10 jobs, and many are agribusinesses. As Africa’s most populous economy, what happens in this West African country has regional and global implications, including for the Sustainable Development Goals and the African Union’s Agenda 2063.

WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and ITC Deputy Executive Director Dorothy Tembo attended the launch of the project and announced other initiatives.

‘This new project aims to build the capacities of stakeholders across the sesame and cowpeas value chains to better understand market access requirements, to improve agricultural practices such as pesticide application, hygiene techniques, harvest and post-harvest methods, and food safety,’ said Director-General Okonjo-Iweala.

‘The project – which will kick off with an initial amount of $1.2 million, of which nearly a million comes from STDF – will also be used to train local food safety advisers. This type of project is one I term a low expenditure, high impact project. The WTO is not a financing agency like the World Bank or IMF but it has a wonderful secret that I find very attractive. It spends small sums of money to make big impact,’ she added.

‘Small businesses make up eight in 10 jobs in Nigeria, with many in the agribusiness sector, so they play a key role in supporting sustainable economic development in the country and broader region,’ said Deputy Executive Director Tembo. ‘That’s why through this joint project, we’re equipping Nigerian agribusinesses to better understand and comply with food safety standards, so they can produce quality goods to sell in new markets, to earn higher incomes and support their families.’

Supporting trade-led growth

Other upcoming initiatives include a WTO-World Bank Digital Trade Initiative for Africa; the Cotton Development Assistance involving a number of partners including FIFA and Afreximbank; and WTO workshops on trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights (TRIPS) and on customs valuation.  

Following the recent launch of the global Women Exporters in the Digital Economy Fund on the sidelines of the 13th WTO Ministerial Conference in Abu Dhabi, Nigeria’s women exporters will soon be able to apply to the Fund for support to grow their businesses.

ITC is also working with the Ministry to put in place a trade intelligence portal to help small businesses, business support organizations and policymakers access the information they need to understand market and export-related conditions, among other trade-related data.

Building on existing initiatives

ITC has been implementing two initiatives in the country, including a Japan-funded project supporting producers of processed food in Nigeria’s Imo State, especially women, youth, and displacement-affected people, to use e-commerce effectively.

The ITC flagship programme on women and trade, SheTrades, is also active in the country. Through the ITC SheTrades Nigeria Hub, hosted by the Nigerian Export Promotion Council, last year alone, over 250 women entrepreneurs received training and accessed resources to help them connect to new markets.