COVID-19: Exports of agricultural produce to commence soon – NAQS

By Emma Okereh

The Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS) says that export of agricultural produce will commence in no distance time.

Quoting the Director -General, Dr. Vincent Isegbe, the Head, Media Communications and Strategies of the service, Dr. Gozie Nwodo, in a statement made available to newsmen in Abuja, said that the Federal Government has authorized the agency to fully resume its export certification duties at all ports immediately.

“The Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation has also issued a consequential whole-of-government directive instructing Ministries, Departments and Agencies as well state governments to cooperate with NAQS to enable a well-choreographed restoration of export traffic for the benefit of all Nigerians,” the statement said.

Furthermore the statement reiterated that lockdown policy was part of government strategy to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus occasioned a hiatus in the agricultural value chain. It also stated that: “With almost all the states in the country under one form of curfew or the other coupled with the ban on interstate transportation, institutional and logistical barricades blocking human and vehicular movement everywhere, the situation made the passage of agricultural commodities from the remote production hotspots to the ports which are mostly located in the urban areas difficult.

“The Director General disclosed that the Federal Government granted the Agency authorization to make agro-export kinetic again because of the manifest need to free all functions related to agricultural export on both the public and private sectors side from any encumbrance.

“He revealed that the Nigeria Customs Service, Nigerian Aviation Handling Company PLC (NAHCO Aviance), Skyway Aviation Handling Company (SAHCO), Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), the Federal Road Safety Commission, Vehicle Inspection Office, the Nigerian Police and other security agencies are now under obligation to work in concert with NAQS and stakeholders to reanimate agricultural export.”

The statement also said that Dr. Isegbe hinted that producer and transit state governments were expected to grant the right to free passage to the consignments along efficient corridors that have been mapped by NAQS under a best logistics-support arrangement.

It added that he has called on all relevant entities in the agricultural export environment to play their respective parts to foster the return of business to normal pace. And also pointed out that agricultural export accounts for the lion’s share of Nigeria’s non- oil export performance.
Meanwhile, Dr. Isegbe underscored that ”given the nosedive of crude prices, the spike of job losses in all continents and the slump of the global economy, it has never been more critical for Nigerian agricultural export to stand to its full height as one of the twin pillars of the Nigerian economy.” And assured that as a responsible public service provider, NAQS has creatively adapted to the challenge of the current context. Hence, the Agency will balance the consideration of professional protocols and adherence to all recommended covid-19 safety precautions in the discharge of its statutory mandate of inspection and certification of agricultural products.

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