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.
Tune in and you'll learn:
7:29 — How being a raw material supplier rather than an end-to-end producer affects the local communities in Nigeria.
"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.
8:27 — Why the Nigerian government initially decided to focus on oil, even though agriculture was the main driver of the economy. And what made it change it decision decades later.
"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.
11:35 — Why the new generation of Nigerian entrepreneurs is now betting on agriculture.
"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.
15:40 — The effect on climate change for Nigerian farmers.
"Because the farming cycle is changing, the rainfall pattern is changing. Things are not what they used to be before." — Josephine Okojie.
16:05 — What is Harmattan.
"It is a seasonal wind that blows from the Saharah Desert and affects Nigeria during dry months." — Josephine Okojie.
17:11 — How the COVID-19 affected the cashew production supply chain for Nigerian international merchants.
"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.
22:59 — How to sell cashews and agricultural products from Nigeria around the world.
"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.
Where to find this episode:
Josephine Okojie — a financial journalist from Nigeria.
Ayodele Olajiga — an entrepreneur from Nigeria.
Shona Prest — an entrepreneur from Nigeria.
Producer: Sonny Sanjay Vadgama
Showrunner: Sergey Faldin
Illustration: Kate Faldina