Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service, (NAQS) has said its campaign and enforcement drive is aimed at changing the narratives of Nigeria’s agricultural produce exports, saying that farmers can now begin to penetrate a waiting Indian pigeon pea market worth up to $100 billion.
Its Director-General, Dr. Vincent Isegbe, said that government was working to ensure that all stakeholders across the value chain meet the relevant sanitary and phytosanitary requirements.
Isegbe told journalists in Abuja at a media parley stated that NAQS was putting necessary measures in collaboration with other government agencies to stem the tide of rejection of some Nigerian agricultural produce in foreign markets, as a result of quality defects.
According to him, “Our mission is to catalyze the harnessing of the export potentials of Nigerian agricultural resources. We recently conducted a crop pest survey on pigeon pea, sorghum and groundnut. The result of our pigeon pea survey has paved a way for Nigeria to penetrate the $100 billion worth pigeon pea market of India.
“In the same vein, our crop pest survey on sorghum has opened the door for Nigeria to export forage sorghum to China. A local company is expected to ship out the first batch of its consignment in the first quarter of this year.
“We are also working assiduously to expand our export frontiers. In addition to the traditional agro-export items, we have identified underutilized but high premium emerging agro-commodities such as sesame, soya bean, cinnamon, pigeon pea, sugar cane, honey and snail that will revolutionize Nigeria’s non-oil export business as we know it.
“In the next couple of weeks, NAQS will launch ‘’Export Certification Value Chain (ECVC)’’ for Onions, Garlic, Honey, Cow horns/hooves, Sunflower, Nsukka Yellow Pepper, Sesame, Gum Arabic and Tumeric. ECVC details the export eligibility standards for the respective items and outlines the actionable instructions that stakeholders have to adhere to for their produce to pass NAQS inspection and certification tests which are preconditions for issuance of the phytosanitary certificate (i.e export permit).
On why agricultural produce from Nigeria was still being rejected in the international market, especially in the European Union countries, Isegbe explained that many countries prohibit the import of produce with mycotoxin contamination, high pesticide residue, microbial contamination, sloppy packaging and labeling.
NAQS Boss went further to explain that “It is our goal to make Nigerian agricultural produce acceptable everywhere in the world. That way, we will earn more foreign exchange from more destination countries.
“Given the need to empower farmers, off-takers and exporters to comply with the standards of the export market, the Agency is implementing a program of backward integration for better export products. This intervention code named “Export Improvement Initiative’’ is tailored to ensure that all relevant activities performed from the fields where the prospective export crops are cultivated up to the point of shipment are consistent with the standard conditions and protocols. As part of this measure, NAQS has been interfacing with stakeholders to educate and train them on export quality criteria for agricultural produce.
“The highlights of these enlightenment workshops and campaigns are the instruction of stakeholders on Global Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) and the formation of self-regulating associations among the different commodity producer constituencies. Through this strategy, NAQS is addressing the fundamental inhibitors of agricultural export and widening the scope for participation of everyday Nigerians in the export business.”