From: Kazeem Biriowo, Abuja
The National Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS) on Wednesday recommenced discussions with the European Union to ensure suspension of the five years ban on export of agricultural produce to Europe.
NAQS Coordinating Director, Dr. Vincent Isegbe, during a workshop organised in partnership with COLECAP, in Abuja said the agency already made efforts to sensitize farmers and exporters as well as freight agents on processing towards acquiring phytosanitary certificates for farm commodity exports.
The event was themed the “Role of Public and Private Sectors in Sanitary and Photosanitary Systems for the Fruits and Vegetable sub-Sector.”
The EU banned Nigeria in 2015 from exporting beans and other produce to Europe due to high level of chemical contamination.
His words: “The EU ban seizes officially in June 2019 we are discussing and we have gone to do periodic sampling on the level of chemicals in our beans.
“With that, we will know if the farmers are complying with our regulations and advice. So far so good, the chemical level is reducing. Though, it at a slow pace but it’s reducing.”
Isegbe who emphasised that balanced diet cannot be achieved without fruits and vegetables said through advocacy and active participation of Croplife, an international agriculture chemical company, chemical level on agric produce was declining.
According to him, the country has a demand of 40, 000 metric tons vegetable but unable to achieve.
He said the country currently don’t export fruits yet it imports alot of apples for local consumption.
“We can grow all these commodities all year round either winter or summer. We have a great opportunity to send these commodities to European nations, America during the time of winter or when the winter is just finishing, so the market is always there.”
However, he described the workshop as an opportunity for stakeholders to discuss and provide sustainable solutions for fruits and vegetable export to other nations.
“In term of the exporters, we have gone to the point to discuss with major exporters, for you to be able to export, you need to buy from the farmers we had trained to know specific commodity. If you buy and have issue with them, with the structure that we have put in place, it is easy to trace back, so there is a chain of flexibility at any point in time which will really help us on our export.
“We have decided to pick 10 commodities and do basic analysis on those commodities so that any young man that is educated and want to go for export will have the basics and understanding of the commodities.” He added.