One of the exporters of five containers of beans returned from the Republic of Ireland, Oklan Best Limited has raised the alarm over extortion by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).
It would be recalled that five containers of beans exported from Nigeria to the Republic of Ireland were recently rejected and returned by the importers after the products were received with heaps of weevils. Currently, exportation of beans from Nigeria is banned by the European Union.
Speaking with the Nigerian Tribune exclusively, the Chief Executive Officer/Managing Director, Oklan Best Limited, Mrs Elizabeth Olanrewaju Nwankwo stated that after the containers of beans were returned, NAFDAC collected N200,000 from her on pretext that they wanted to carry out some test on the beans.
According to her, “NAFDAC said they wanted to do something on the beans, that I should pay N200,000. I paid the money, but as I am speaking to you, I have not seen or heard anything that they have done.
“Nobody in NAFDAC has communicated to me on what the N200,000 was used for, neither do I know anything about the whereabouts of my beans.
“NAFDAC should be asked to give rationale for the money they collected from the beans container owners, otherwise they should be told to refund the money.”
On how government can assist the non oil export, the Oklan Best boss stated that, “ In this dispensation, we expect the government to put in all the necessary facilities, to make assistance a reality, because non oil export is more of small scale industry, peasant farmers, SMEs and minor manufacturers; and there are a lot of avenue where they can support in terms of physical infrastructure like having an export village, a premises where there will be regular power supply and also equipment that would be used.
“They can actually put the equipment in place and charge people for it. it would be a source of revenue for the government, and it would also be a means of achieving quality product for export.”
On why European countries rejected Nigerian beans, she explained that, “The reject are there and the cause of it is the quality that we give out. Even what we give to ourselves in this nation is not good for our health, not to talk of saying you want to export it.
“For instance the beans that we eat contain too much pesticide. Although you need pesticides, to preserve the beans, but the volume of pesticides that is put into it has no measurement. The farmers will put their own, the middle men will do the same thing and by the time it get to the exporter, there is no measurement you can give explanation to. So when the beans get over there and they are tested, there is going to be serious alarm as a result of high concentration of pesticides.
“Another problem with our beans is the moisture at the time of harvest. You begin to ask if it was truly dried before being exported, because if it’s truly dried and put in an air tight, either a keg or a bag, nothing will happen to it.
“I have beans with me that are almost two years and nothing is wrong with them but if peradventure when you are drying the beans, it’s not properly dried and the moisture is still high, it will not show at that time, but after some months it will start to bake itself and it will turn bad.
“So the way we can improve our beans export is from the farm. Our farmers should be given training, then those middle men should be allowed to store their beans in silos, in other words we are taking the risk out of our society.
“But what do we have here in Nigeria? Aside considering the quality, the quantity, and finance of your export, you are then faced with the bureaucracy among the government agencies you have to go through, which are not seated in one place.
“Who always want to show that they are the authority at all times, and when you get to the port there are all manner of delays. Well there is need for holistic change from the top to the least person in the country.”
When contacted, NAFDAC Director of Special Duties and Head of Media, Abubakar Jimoh denied knowledge of the issue but promised to get back to the Nigerian Tribune after investigating. However, as at the time of filing in this report, he was yet to get back to the Nigerian Tribune.