By Emma Okereh
Cowpea stakeholders have been urged to work together to address the weak link in the cowpea value chain in order to establish continuity of market access for Nigerian beans.
This admonition was given by the Director-General, Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS), Dr. Vincent Isegbe, during a strategic engagement with the President of Cowpea Association of Nigeria, Alhaji Shitu Mohammed, recently in Abuja.
He noted that ”the pattern of boom and bust in cowpea export owes to the ingrained issue of high pesticide residue. The pesticides are largely introduced during the storage phase. The residue levels in the cowpea tend to rise above the maximum threshold set by certain customs union and this makes the product unacceptable in crucial destinations.’’ He stressed the need to make a clean break from imprudent application of storage pesticides and consolidate a reputation for producing and delivering cowpea that satisfy relevant quality criteria.
A press statement by the Head of media, communications and strategies, Dr Gozie Nwodo and made available to The Authority stated that the country losses foreign exchange and thousands of jobs when export of cowpea or any other agricultural commodity is suspended on account of a steady trend of intolerable quality defects.
Dr Isegbe advised cowpea value chain actors to form a network of cooperatives and embrace the principle of scrupulous self-regulation. He mentioned that, as the people who benefit most when business is brisk, it behoves on all value chain players to take the initiative to ensure that good agricultural practices suffice the entire process of producing export-destined cowpea.
In his remarks, Alhaji Shitu Mohammed identified lack of awareness as the root cause of high pesticide residue at the storage endpoint. Stakeholders commonly regarded the liberal application of pesticides as a way to protect their produce from weevils and preserve the material value of their produce. He stated that ”the intervening period in which cowpea export has been at a low ebb has given stakeholders a light-bulb moment. They are now ready to adapt. Everyone is eager to go organic so that stability, momentum and growth can return to the value chain.”
He thanked Dr. Isegbe for faithfully advancing the implementation of the workplan designed to remedy the contextual gaps that occasioned the recurring disruptions of cowpea export.