Plant Quarantine moves to improve agro produce for export
The Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS) has stressed the need to observe stringent inspection and certification procedures in processing Nigerian vegetables for export.
Dr Vincent Isegbe, NAQS Coordinating Director, made the remark during a workshop on Plant Health Inspection and Certification of Vegetables for exporters and farmers.
In a statement on Tuesday in Lagos, Isegbe said that the two-day workshop centred on vegetables because it remained one of Nigeria’s most exportable commodities.
“ Vegetable is a delicate product and because it is almost ready to eat, it needs more stringent inspection and certification procedures; so, such ready-to-eat commodity will need special attention.
“That is why we are emphasising that the process that will enable our commodities to be accepted internationally have to be put it in place,’’ Isegbe said.
He said that the European Union ban on Nigeria’s beans had affected the economy along the value chain.
“We have had issues in the past concerning beans where the EU suspended Nigeria for three years for beans export.
“That is not good for us because it means that all the farmers who are producing beans can no more export the quantity that they used to export.
“There is the need to avoid future rejection of Nigeria’s agricultural commodities,’’ Isegbe said.
According to him, the EU promised to reverse the ban if necessary measures are put in place before 2019.
“The good news is that the EU said if we can put the process in place earlier than 2019, they will reverse their decision,” he said.
Samuel Ikani, NAQS South West Zonal Coordinator, said that vegetables from Nigeria were being intercepted by the importing countries, especially U.S., due to the menace of White Flies.
He said that such constant interception was fast becoming an embarrassment to the agency and the nation as a whole.
“Hence, the training for farmers and exporters to be more experienced in the process involved in the production and handling of vegetables from the farm down to the port of exit.
“By so doing, ameliorating the incidence of White Flies and thereby add value to our vegetables and making them acceptable in the international market,” he said.
The training coordinator, Mrs Stella Nonyem, said NAQS was working to mend fences not only with the EU countries but with the entire international community.
Nonyem said the training would expose the farmers and NAQS inspection officers to the required local and international standards of food safety.