The Coordinating Director of the agency, Dr. Vincent Isegbe, who disclosed this at the opening of a two- day training workshop on Plant Health Inspection and Certification of Vegetables for exporters and farmers, said all hands are on deck to ensure that the EU lifts the ban before 2019.
Noting that the EU ban on Nigerian beans has severely affected the economy, Isegbe said there was a need to avoid future rejection of Nigeria’s agricultural commodities even as he pointed out that the agency is doing its best to revert the situation.
According to him, the EU has promised to reverse the ban if necessary measures were put in place before 2019.
“We have had issues in the past concerning beans where the European
Union suspended Nigeria for three years from beans export. That is not good for us because it means that all the farmers who are producing beans can no longer export the quantity that they used to export.
“All the traders in between, the warehouse people, the transporters and we, who are involved in the inspection and certification, that aspect has been broken down because they cannot generate any revenue along the value chain anymore.
“The good news is that the EU said if we can put the process in place earlier than 2019, they will reverse their decision. So that is where we are,” he said.
Isegbe, said NAQS is fully committed to ensuring that the country agriculture produce meets international standards and export quality.
He said the training is centered on vegetables because it is one of Nigeria’s most exported commodity.
According to him, because of the sensitive processes involved in the handling of vegetables, there is a need to put in place stringent inspection and certification procedures that will sustain its export especially at a time the government is placing emphasis on non-oil exports.
“Vegetables are a delicate product and because it is almost ready to eat, it needs more stringent inspection and certification procedures since most times we eat it fresh as salad. So, such ready to eat commodity will need special attention.
“Now that the revenue from oil is falling, we need to go back to our first love which is agriculture. We were doing well in that area in the 1960,s and early 70’s but in the 80’s, upward, there has been a reduction in agricultural produce for export. That is why we are emphasising that the process that will enable our commodities to be accepted internationally, we have to put it in place,” he said.
Also speaking, Zonal Coordinator, South West Zone S. A. Ikani S.A said in recent times, vegetables from Nigeria are been intercepted by the importing countries especially United States of America due to the menace of White Flies (Bemisia Tabacci).
He said the constant interception is fast becoming an embarrassment to the agency and the nation as a whole hence, the need to organise the training for farmers and exporters to be more experienced in the process involved in the production and handling of vegetables from the farm down to the port of exit.