An Aba-based entrepreneur, Mr Longinus Chima, says with the country’s natural endowments and Government’s support, Nigeria can become a major producer of exotic and tasty wines for global markets.
Chima, a U.S. trained biologist and wine producer, who lives in Aba, spoke in an interview with reporters on Thursday in Aba, Abia State, South-Eastern Nigeria.
He said that Nigeria, blessed with assorted and exotic fruits not found either in Europe or America, could become a major producer of exotic and tasty wines, comparable to the best in any country, and acceptable anywhere in the world.
He said that if investors and Government took advantage of this rare opportunity of venturing into wine-making, it could save the country huge sums in foreign exchange and in importing of low quality wines.
“We can produce better wines in Nigeria because of the assorted types of fruits that we have. The Whites use grape, the type I believe we have in Jos.
“But that brand of grape is not richer than mangoes or other fruits that we have here, which can be used for wine-making.
“A White man told me how he uses the cob of sweet corn to make wine because of the sugar in the cob. Tell me what quality of wine you would get from a corn cob compared to what you would get from a fruit?
“And when they bring such wine from corn cob here, our people would jump at it and say it is produced abroad.
“Yes, they have all it takes to produce and package good looking wine, but we can produce and package more nutritional and better, high quality wine here in Nigeria, especially if we have Government’s support.
“A lot of fruits are being wasted here, especially oranges in the Benue area, whereas if they have any winery there, the fruits could be used for wine instead of allowing them to waste”, he said.
Chima lamented that some of the challenges being faced by Nigerian entrepreneurs were funding and Government administrative bottle-necks, while trying to establish a factory.
He said Government could help the wine industry thrive through incentive and removal of administrative bottle-necks for the bottling companies, producers of wine and wine bottle corks.
“There is need for government to encourage production of good wine in Nigeria which will ultimately reduce smuggling of wine products into the country.
“At the end, Nigerians would get better and cheaper wines that would give Nigerian wine producers comparative advantage over some producers in other parts of the world.
“It would also generate more revenue for the Government and reduce unemployment through creation of jobs for Nigerians,” he said.
Amaka E. Nliam