Okechukwu Nnodim, Abuja
The Federal Government on Thursday inaugurated the Inter-Ministerial Technical Committee on Zero Reject of Agricultural Commodities and Produce/Non-Oil Exports from Nigeria.
It said the move would ensure the standardisation of Nigeria’s agricultural produce and its acceptance by the international community.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono, who inaugurated the committee in Abuja, said it was time for Nigeria to avoid the embarrassment caused by the rejection of its agricultural produce.
He said the country must strengthen its regulatory and inspection authorities and make them live up to their mandates.
Nanono said, “Our desire for standard agricultural products and non-oil exports means there will be vigorous pursuit of investment in quality control and standardisation.
“As we pursue this, my ministry, in collaboration with relevant stakeholders, is committed not only to food security, but wholesome foods of high quality acceptable for local consumption and export.”
The minister expressed worry over the recent rejection of Nigerian beans by the European Union, as the target to attain food sufficiency export would not be achieved if what the country produced failed to meet international food certification standards.
This, he said, should be a source of concern to Nigerians, particularly the ministries, departments and agencies charged with the responsibility of producing and certifying produce for export.
“Do not also forget that whatever is being rejected elsewhere could be what we are consuming locally, therefore putting our health into jeopardy by not paying attention to quality assurance,” Nanono stated.
He added, “The areas of handling our fresh produce, cold storage and post-harvest loss management are also major concerns if we must improve our export.”
Nanono charged members of the committee and stakeholders in the agricultural sector to join hands and to achieve the mandate of agricultural standardisation in Nigeria.
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