Nigeria to formally export yam to UK, US this week
By Thursday, June 29, 2017, Nigeria will formally export its first consignment of certified yams to the UK and US, as part of efforts aimed reclaiming the country’s share of agricultural export market.
Nigeria lost its share of the agricultural export market for decades, due to poor quality control and subsequent rejection in foreign markets. Several efforts made in the past to address the national embarrassment, yielded little or no result, until recently when the Federal Government took drastic steps to address the situation.
Among several efforts, the Federal Government empowered the Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Services (NAQS), to make it more responsive to issues of safety and phytosanitary standards in food exports, so that its reports will be acceptable globally. This is to forestall rejections of food exports on account of quality deficiency.
The Guardian learnt from the Technical Adviser, Quality Control & Standards, and Office of the Minister, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Abuja, Heather R. Akanni, that government has also put in place a standing committee, technically supported by the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) and consisting of membership from critical and relevant agencies of the Federal Government.
The agencies are the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Nigerian Customs Service, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS), Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), and National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC), among others.
According to her, these agencies, working with the FMARD, Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment (FMITI) and the Federal Ministry of Finance, have commenced work on an export control plan to target the country’s beans rejection and develop HS codes for other exportable commodities, adding that the development of HS codes for agro commodities, currently in progress, will maximally aid traceability and effectiveness of the single window platform.
“The commitment to end the embarrassing rejection of Nigerian commodity and produce at the international market is irrevocable. The health of Nigerians is also paramount and the populace needs good quality food as well. There is nothing like Nigerian or local standards, but international standards to which we cannot but adhere in our local handling of food, consumption and export drive.
“Government is evolving policy frameworks to drastically reduce the rejection of agricultural produce originating from Nigeria, while also strengthening the regulatory and inspection authorities to ensure that they live up to their mandates, and to vigorously pursue investments in quality control, standardisation and adherence to international standards and best practices.”
When asked why the exportation is coming at a when the country is facing dare scarcity of yam, the Special Assistant (SA) to the minister on Media and Communication, Kayode Oyeleye told The Guardian that government has assured that more farmers would produce more yams, noting that efforts have been made to forestall scarcity. He added that the exportation would help farmers to produce more yams to boost their income.
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