Using Emu Oguro (Local Palm Wine) Exportation to attract Foreign Tourists

I arrived in the forest. I
met the forest lord

He offers me bush meat

I am not here to hunt for
bush meat

 

I journey deep down the
ocean

I met the queen of the
coast

She offers me fish to eat

I am not here to fish
either

 

On my way back home

I met the palm wine tapper

He gave me some wine to
drink

Sozzled and blotto I got
home

And then I forget my sorrow

– David Adeyemo –

 

Nigeria is a country blessed with so many natural and agricultural
resources. We are so much blessed that we seem to have these resources in
excess as compared to almost all the countries in the African continent.
Whether we’re using these resources to our advantage or not is a different ball
game entirely. I recently stumbled on United Nation World Tourism
Organisation’s (UNWTO) website to check out some of the programmes it has lined
up for the last quarter of the year. In the coming months, the apex tourism
body will be organizing a wine tourism conference in collaboration with the
Georgian National Tourism Administration. The press release on its website
stated: “Georgia’s unique winemaking traditions date back 8,000 years and are
considered by UNESCO as intangible heritage, making the country an ideal host
for the Global Conference on Wine Tourism. The country’s recent success in
attracting a growing number of tourists and its development of tourism
products, branding and marketing, combine to present an excellent platform for
sharing best practices, experience and knowledge.”
Wine tourism, did you
say?

 

What wine is better than our locally tapped palm wine? If you have
ever been served palm wine in any part of Nigeria especially the west and the
east regions, you would be able to testify that nothing beats the taste of our
freshly tapped unadulterated palm wine. On the other hand, what beats my
imagination is the fact that we’re not doing anything grand with this quintessential
alcoholic beverage beyond just consuming it locally and may be a few
exportations. We can still do so much more. And surprisingly, there is a huge
market for this natural product abroad. The revenue generated every year
locally is nothing compared to what we can earn as a country if we intensify
exportation of this product. The product has the potential of generating
millions of dollars every year if done properly and supported with the
necessary marketing efforts.

 

Palm wine has many names it is known by depending on the region.
For instance, in Nigeria it is called emu, oguro, nkwu enu, nkwu ocha, palmy,
or tombo liquor. Palm wine is indeed indispensable in many ceremonies in some
parts of Nigeria especially among the Ibo people. Guests at weddings, birthday
celebrations and funeral wakes are usually served charitably. For instance, a
young man who is going for his first introduction at his in-laws place is
required to go with palm wine. Depending on the customs of various towns, there
are specific gallons of palm wine required for such an event.

 

Sometimes, it can also be used as a healing agent. It is often
mixed with medicinal herbs to cure a wide variety of physical illnesses. Many
drinking sessions will often begin with a small amount of palm wine spilled on
the ground as a token of respect to deceased ancestors. Women as well as men
enjoy drinking palm wine. Although the former consumes it less often in public.

 

Palm wine tapping is both an art and a science. Ask our Ibo
brothers in the East and the Yoruba farmers in the West. It takes certain
specialized skills that are learnt over a course of time to be able to master
the art and perfect it. It commands more respect than any other alcoholic
beverage among the rural and urban dwellers in Nigeria. There are also other
alcoholic beverages that are derivatives from fermented palm wine while some
others such as Ogogoro (dry gin), Burukutu are locally brewed drinks made from
guinea corn or wheat. There are different types of palm wine but the type
that’s sourced from either Raffia palm or palm oil tree are the original palm
wine. Although, they are a bit more expensive and considered the king of all
local wines.

 

Here are a number of fun facts about palm wine in Nigeria: (1)
Palm wine is usually the official drink for all traditional marriages. In fact,
it’s in most times included in the bride price list (a list of items to be
procured by the groom to-be before a woman is given out in marriage by her
family). (2) Getting unadulterated palm wine is indeed very difficult; most are
mixed with other drinks by greedy sellers to maximize profit. (3) In the rural
areas, palm wine often accompanies (and usually the best drink) pepper soup,
Ugba, Nkwobi and Isi Ewu (goat head).

 

Having looked at the great potentials palm wine wields and the
inherent implication on our culture as a country, it is a course of wisdom to
create festivals or conferences that will bring tourists from other countries
to come into our country, considering the fact that we’re at a point where
growing our hospitality and tourism industry is especially important.
Organizing an annual Palm Wine Festival, or something of that sort will boost
the inflow of tourists into our country which will directly contribute to the
economy. For instance, more jobs will be created, more hotels, including those
on
Jumia Travel platform
will experience increase in patronage, airlines will make more sales and
several other attendant benefits. A typical festival will need about three to
six months to plan and will gulp between N4m – N10m. But the ROI will likely
triple the expenditure and once this becomes a yearly event, an additional
source of income will definitely emerge.

 

Beyond hosting a palm wine festival or conference or whatever
nomenclature we eventually come up with, I think it’s also important for public
private partnership to promote, on a large scale, the exportation of
unadulterated palm wine to neighbouring countries and major European countries.
We stand to benefit immensely from its export. We only need to get the
packaging right and voila, the orders will start coming in. However, before we
start intensifying commercialization of this product, local promoters should
make conscious effort to get as many Nigerians as possible to start making
demands. Thankfully, ecommerce has changed the way everything is done. It’s not
improbable for a seller to open a platform on any of the online marketplaces
and support it with appropriate publicity. We will go beyond local consumption
to selling to other continents. But first, we need to grow local demands for
the product.

 

The journey to building our country to Africa’s number one tourist
destination is filled with many road bumps. But every step we take should
always be in the right direction. Else, things might just fall apart.

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