The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Sabo Nanono on Thursday said that Nigeria’s Agricultural Produce will not be accepted by International Community if it does not meet up with the International Food Certification Standards.
Alhaji Nanono who said this in Abuja on Thursday at the inauguration of the Standing Inter-Ministerial Technical Committee on Agro Zero Reject Initiative said ”This administration is committed to harnessing the natural resources that God has so richly endowed us with to feed ourselves in the region and indeed, the world at large.
“However, this cannot be achieved if what we are producing as a nation cannot meet food certification standards,” he added.
According to the Minister, it is time Nigeria avoid the embarrassment of reject of our Agricultural Produce in the future but strengthen its regulatory and inspection authorities to ensure that they live up to their mandates.
“Our desire for standard agricultural products and non-oil exports means there will be vigorous pursuit of investment in quality control and standardization”
“In pursuance of 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 Beans by the European Union.
He opined that this should be a source of concern to Nigerians, particularly the Ministries, Department and Agencies charged with the responsibility of producing and certifying our produce for export in order to find a lasting solution to the menace.
“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”
“The areas of handling our fresh produce, cold storage and post-harvest loss management are also major concern if we must improve our export”.
He further affirm that it has become necessary to ensure that our production, comprising our commodities with comparative advantages export potentials and emerging ones, is demand-driven and targeted towards meeting the food safety standards of our intending markets with the assistance of experts in the agricultural sector.
“Our fisheries and aquaculture systems urgently need to enforce standards that would accord global credibility and our animal products should be acceptable anywhere”.
He thereby charged members of the committee and major stakeholders in the agricultural sector to join hands and achieve the mandate.
“In carrying out this assignment, you should know that none of you is stronger than all of you. It is therefore pertinent that we work together as a team to achieve the common goal of this national interest”.
Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Dr. Ernest Umakhihe stated that Nigeria has a comparative advantage in many agro commodities, but low food quality and safety issues have been a barrier to greater competitiveness in the international market.
Dr. Umakhihe however noted that the Agro Zero Reject Initiative is coming at the right time when the Federal Government is reshaping her priorities in favour of Agriculture for effective economic diversification and wealth as well as job creation.
He however affirm that the Ministry is aware of the various challenges confronting the sector but that explains the need for the Ministry to collaborate with other regulatory agencies and partners in the current initiative to attain zero reject of produce and products of Nigeria origin.