Stakeholders seek mechanisms to ease agric exports

Stakeholders in the agricultural sector have called on relevant government agencies to come up with a framework to ease the exportation of agro produce.

The call came in a communiqué from a three-day summit organised by the Agricultural and Rural Management Training Institute (ARMTI), Ilorin, on Agriproduce Exportation, in Abuja recently.

“Agricultural produce exporters are faced with the challenges of poor/weak infrastructure, inadequate extension delivery services, inadequate access to input, limited access to financial assistance, etc.

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“Smallholder farmers currently have challenges exporting individually, consequently, there are not enough exporters of agricultural produce,” they said.

The stakeholders also identified “poor compliance to standards, improper regulation and multiple taxation” as other issues that need to be addressed to enhance agricultural produce exportation.

According to them, timely delivery of agricultural produce is very critical in agricultural produce exportation.

“There are bottlenecks from regulatory and revenue collection agencies in the exportation of agriproduce to the desired destinations.

“The standard of agriproduce in Nigeria does not conform to the global best practices due to high level of contaminants.

“There is low value addition to farm produce by most farmers, and inadequate synergy among export promotion institutions.

“Government agencies concerned need to come up with framework that will engender synergy and collaboration for seamless operation to facilitate ease of exporting agro produce”, they said.

To address the challenges, the stakeholders made a number of recommendations, including “effective inclusion of smallholder farmers and producers in agro production and exportation”.

They called for an overhaul of extension service delivery and advisory services to farmers in the country.

“Government should develop more staple crop processing zones across the country so as to stimulate the interest of smallholder farmers for agribusiness development.

“There is the need for regular capacity development for stakeholders (regulatory bodies, extension officers, among others) both in private and public sectors on acceptable and up-to-date standards and procedures on agricultural produce exportation.

“There is the need to appeal to successful agriproduce exporters to adopt contact and contract farming in a bid to assist other intending smallholder farmers that are ready to follow stringent management protocol.

“The proscription of all revenue collection agencies littering the highways should be enforced and government should reform its revenue collection system on agricultural produce following globally acceptable payment system,” they said.

They Also called for the establishment of accredited warehouse receipt where farmers would aggregate their produce and the payment effected accordingly.

According to them, there is also need for consistent monitoring and supervision of commodity warehouses for compliance to standards.

“Training the trainers programmes for relevant stakeholders in the appropriate utilisation of agro chemicals on farm produce should be organised by ARMTI and other relevant organisations.

“There is the need for certification and licensing of fumigators on effective and efficient utilisation of chemicals to control chemical mishandling.

“There is the need for Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) and the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) to urgently rally relevant stakeholders from the sector and adopt Global GAP standard.

“This is key to gaining the confidence of international markets.

“Government should adopt and enforce food safety issues affecting production of agro produce.

“Promotion, extension and provision of processing technologies for value addition by relevant stakeholders”, they said.