By Perpetua Egesimba
Following the rejections of about 67 processed and semi-processed food products exported to the European Union markets and other parts of the world between 2015 and 2016, the Federal Government, has presented a designed Methodologies and Conduits of Excellence/Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) Handbooks for stakeholders in the industry.
The handbooks were launched in Lagos during a stakeholders meeting with the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr Audu Ogbe on the theme, “Zero Reject of Nigeria’s Agricultural Exports as a Catalyst for Economic Diversification”. The interactive session was meant to address issues concerning exportation of agricultural products and ways to boost the country’s export business.
Some of the rejected Nigerian food items said to have failed the prescribed regulations and quality standards specified by the receiving countries include brown and white beans, melon seeds, smoked catfish and crayfish, palm oil, mushrooms, bitter leaf, ugu leaves and shelled groundnut.
The Federal Government in August 2016 inaugurated Inter-Ministerial Technical Committee on Zero Reject of Agricultural Commodities and Produce/Non-Oil Exports to meaningfully resolve the challenges.
It also transformed the Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Services (NAQS) to make it responsive to issues of safety and phytosanitary standards in food exports so that its reports will be acceptable globally.
Mr Ogbeh, during the workshop, said that Nigeria needs to strengthen its regulatory and inspection authorities to ensure that they live up to their mandates.
“The Ministry is looking seriously at replacing polypropylene bags with jute bags for packaging grains with mass production of kenaf to boost export. We will continue to work with the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) as well as all other relevant agencies and parastatals in this sector,” he said.
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