By Emma Okereh
For economic development of the country, exporters and other stakeholders in the agricultural produce value chain have been urged to embrace best practices in the sector.
The admonition was given by the Director General, Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS), Dr Vincent Isegbe.
In an exclusive interview with The Authority, the DG maintained that until all the stakeholders, from the producers to the regulators including the packaging embrace the best practices, export of Agric products may continue to suffer some setbacks.
Speaking on the concept of ECVC, he explained that its basically idea was to draw the attention of the people on the need to focus on some commodities and highlight the details of the commodities, their challenges and how best it can approach the export of those commodities in such a way that Nigeria can make the best out of the export value.
“So, we looked at the conventional and the emerging commodities and bring them to the limelight. Even those that are not yet known but knowing to use as industry player. We have to highlight them in the 26 agro commodities that we have showcased so far. But the border line is that we have identified two critical issues with the ECVC. They first is that yes, we are producing, but we need to maintain standards and products according to standards. That’s why we are bending to ensure that those who are involved in the production knows exactly how they should produce it to meet the export market. The second critical issue is that Nigeria should produce to meet a particular export needs. I will give you two examples, Cassandra and cashew”.
He pointed out that while there is market for ethanol, Cassava will be best used for it even when maize can also be used. He canvassed that the best species and other comparative advantages should be deployed to achieve a competitive edge.
He disclosed that while Nigeria is the highest producer of Cassava in the world, it is ranked 10th in Africa inn export value”, insisting there are things these countries are doing right which Nigeria has not done. On resumption of exportation of hibiscus, the DG says, ”We are happy and delighted. There was an agreement of workplace between Nigeria and Mexico.
The export started in July and there is no issue at all since then. All the containers that have left Nigeria have passed the inspection and certification by the Mexican authorities.
The NAQS instituted the expert certification value chain for hibiscus that involves the state governments of the producing areas, the NAQS, the exporter group and the supplier group.
He therefore appeared to those who want to join the hibiscus export business to understudy it first. He urged them to register and study it for six months as NAQS is not in a hurry to allow new entrants so that the market will not be messed.
He also urged stakeholders especially farmers not to use unapproved pesticides for presentation of grain and cereal especially this harvest period. The DG assured that the 2021 outlook for the Service is bright given the strategies put in place even as he noted the challenges.
“The outlook is very bright but there are so many challenges because we need to do whatever we can to ensure that virtually what we produce can be exported”, he said.