By Emma Okereh
For Nigeria to maximize full potential and boost its economy especially in the agricultural sector, the Director General, Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS), Dr Vincent Isegbe has called on the federal government to enact a national policy on dreary and other agricultural products.
Isegbe stated this in an exclusive interview with The AUTHORITY in Abuja.
He expressed worry that Nigeria is the highest producer of some agricultural products but yet, lags behind in area of value chain.
The DG pointed cassava as a ready example where Nigeria leads in its production, but come a distant third in the system.
Isegbe explained that the situation can be reversed when care is taken on its production and processing through good policies and practice so that farmers can have good value for their products and earn well.
He said, “Our major challenge is on value addition. We produce but other countries determine the price. We have to add value to the products. There should be national policy for dreary, tuber, poultry, etc, ” he said.
The DG further called on the federal government to embrace the economy of scale so that the country can specialize and make more money by prioritizing.
“We must specialize so that the Quarantine Service can be able to do its job effectively,” he advised.
Isegbe who also expressed worry with the activities of smugglers as it affects donkey, said that the animal may go extinct if nothing was done to checkmate the excesses of stakeholders.
He noted that donkey’s hide is becoming important in the export market and so, monkey has become an emerging agricultural export product which is heavily impacting on the economy.
“We are not against donkey export business. Indiscriminate slaughter and the few left are going out. We suggest they embrace ranching, breeding. The donkey value chain is so enormous. You can become a pasture manager, haulage facility, slaughter house name it.
“The ready source for donkey is difficult that is why we are partnering and forming a body of development partners with the institution with the national mandate to protect and ensure that the animal does not go extinct alongside the stakeholders.
“We want donkey breeding to be enhanced so that it can be a win-win situation.”
Regarding the proposed boom in agricultural export products, he said the project is in progress but commercial flights are still limited in number as the country is still smarting out from covid-19 pandemic. ‘’The export of agric products are still on-going. Habiscus has been on-going, the soghum project is still on hold because of COVID-19. Vegetable, Sesame, Ginger etc go through the sea port and are on-going. Our plan for Soghum will definitely turn around the economy of soghum producers.
‘’Value addition is very key here. We produce cocoa, yet, other economic blocks take the lead. They determine prices for us even when it is processed to something else. We need to do something . It doesn’t fall under our mandate but we need to draw attention to it so that government can do something about it,’ he submits.