Minister seeks stronger regulatory authorities to achieve zero export reject

•Nigeria loses $362.5 million cowpea export revenue ― NAQS

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Sabo Nanono has said that there is need to strengthen the nation’s regulatory authority for agricultural exportation in order to curb rejection of country’s agro-products in international markets.

Nanono said it is embarrassing to have agricultural products from Nigeria rejected in the international markets due to some unwholesome practices at the processing stage.

The Minister made this known while inaugurating the Standing Inter-Ministerial Technical Committee on Zero Reject of Agricultural Commodities and Produce/Non-Oil Exports.

He said “we should avoid the embarrassment of rejects in the future, and strengthen our regulatory / inspection authorities to ensure that they live up to their mandates.

He said the country’s desire for standard agricultural products and non-oil exports means there will be the vigorous pursuit of investment in quality control and standardization.

“In pursuance of this, my Ministry, in collaboration with relevant stakeholders, is committed not only to food security but wholesome foods of high quality acceptable for local consumption and export,” he noted.

The Minister reminded the Committee that whatever is being rejected elsewhere could be what Nigerians are consuming locally, therefore putting our own health into jeopardy, by not paying attention to quality assurance.

“The areas of handling our fresh produce, cold storage and post-harvest loss management are also of major concern if we must improve on our exports.

“In this regard, it then becomes necessary to ensure that our production, comprising our commodities with comparative advantages/export potentials and emerging ones, is demand-driven and targeted towards meeting the food safety standards of our intending markets with the assistance of experts in the sector, including the organized private sector, our development partners, our extension workers and the media.

The Minister said it is worrisome that up till now, Nigeria’s dried beans are still under a ban by the European Union.

The Director-General Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS), Dr Vincent Isegbe in his presentation said In 2015, the European Union (EU) banned the importation of Nigeria’s dried beans, on the ground that the products contained a high level of pesticide considered dangerous to human health.

He said, Unfortunately, to date, the ban has not been lifted saying it was as a result of a supposed “failure to implement the EU’s food safety action plan submitted since 2018.”

Dr Isegbe noted that Cowpea was one of the strategic commodities in Nigeria’s agro-export portfolio, adding that Global production of dried cowpeas stands at 7. 4 million tonnes.

“Nigeria is the largest producer of dried cowpeas, accounting for 46% of global yield and 48% of African output adding that Nigeria is in pole position to dominate the global cowpea market but has remained a fringe and sometimes absent player due to persisting export control issues.

He further noted that Nigeria is not among the top 10 exporters of cowpea and the country loses $362.5 million in export revenue due to the off and on the pattern of cowpea export traffic.

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