Nigerian farmers in Ekiti seek soft loans to increase production

The Ekiti State Farmers Community Association has requested the state government to offer concessional loans so that farmers can increase production this year. Olatunji Ayegbusi, the association’s chairman, briefed newsmen on the need for government intervention to address agricultural challenges last weekend in Ikole, Ekiti, and made the appeal on behalf of the members.

In order to survive the current economic difficulties the state and Nigeria as a whole are currently facing, he claimed, the farmers urgently needed federal support.

Ayegbusi asked the state administration to collaborate with foreign investors and private businesses to give them access to loans and fertilizers so they can boost the state’s agricultural output.


Nigeria and France Sign a €1.2 Million Agricultural Improvement Agreement

A grant agreement for €1.2 million has been agreed between France and Nigeria to establish an agribusiness and food market strategy in Nigeria.

On Thursday, the Federal Minister of Finance (FMoF), the Federal Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), the French Ambassador to Nigeria, the Country Director of the French Development Agency (AFD), and the Director of International Relations of the French company Semmaris signed the agreement on behalf of the Nigerian government.

The AFD award will support a one-year technical assistance program to help the FMARD build a national agrifood market development strategy, according to a statement from the French Embassy in Nigeria. This one-year study, which will take place between Q1 2023 and Q1 2024, will focus on the three main urban consuming centers in Nigeria: Lagos-Ibadan, Kano-Kaduna, and Owerri-Port-Harcourt. It will examine the entire value chains market ecology from rural to urban areas.

The study will produce an inventory of current agricultural markets, a detailed analysis of current distribution channels and agrifood logistics, a legal and regulatory framework tailored to market development, and technical recommendations to renovate or construct three terminal markets, according to the statement.

The Federal Project Management Unit (FPMU) of the Rural Access and Agricultural Marketing Project (RAAMP) within the FMARD will assist the French company Semmaris in implementing the program. In Rungis, France, Semmaris has been in charge of running the biggest wholesale fresh food market in the entire world for more than 50 years.

The Rungis Market, according to the announcement, unites more than 1,200 businesses from diverse food value chain segments. With the completion of the “Rural Access and Mobility Project” (RAMP) in 2021 and the ongoing “Rural Access and Agricultural Marketing Project” (RAAMP) (2020–2028), co-financed by AFD and the World Bank for a total investment of €700 million, including $296 million from AFD, this initiative will build on the 10-year intervention of the World Bank and AFD in the rural development sector in Nigeria.

According to the statement, these initiatives would help reduce post-harvest losses by upgrading 65 collection markets across 19 States into agro-logistics centers and rehabilitating nearly 2000 km of all-season rural roads.

In Nigeria, agriculture will contribute 22% of the country’s GDP in 2020 and will employ 70% of all formally and informally employed people. Nigeria is a significant producer of cereals (maize, rice, sorghum), roots and tubers (cassava is the world’s biggest producer, while taro and yam are also produced in huge quantities), cocoa, and palm oil. Small, inefficient family farms that engage in low-mechanized subsistence rain-fed agriculture are typical of the region’s agricultural sector. 90% of the nation’s agricultural production is produced by smallholder farmers, who make up 80% of the farming population. Despite rising agricultural productivity, more agri-food goods are being imported, and 30 to 40 percent of crops are being lost due to poor access to markets and highways.

This research will help to strengthen agri-food systems and structure the food value chain. It would assist in identifying the terminal markets that need to be renovated or newly constructed on the outskirts of cities, connecting Nigeria’s main urban consuming regions to rural areas that are gaining from past and current interventions by AFD and the World Bank. By doing this, wholesale marketplaces will add to the already-existing ring of enhanced infrastructures (country roads, food markets), as well as the sound maintenance procedures established by the RAMP projects. This study will support strengthening the food supply in cities amid growing urbanization and population expansion.

Dried Hibiscus: What you need to know

The term “dried hibiscus” typically refers to dried petals and other dried flower components from the hibiscus species known scientifically as Hibiscus sabdariffa. Other names for this hibiscus shrub are roselle, flor de Jamaica, sorrel, and red sorrel. Hibiscus sabdariffa blossoms can be consumed cooked or raw, such as in a salad, and can be used to produce hibiscus tea, hibiscus cordial, and jam. Hibiscus sabdariffa blossoms can be consumed cooked or raw, such as in a salad, and can be used to produce hibiscus tea, hibiscus cordial, and jam. Hibiscus sabdariffa blossoms can be consumed cooked or raw, such as in a salad, and can be used to produce hibiscus tea, hibiscus cordial, and jam. Dried hibiscus is rich in vitamin C, numerous minerals, different organic acids, and other compounds like polysaccharides and flavonoids that give edible hibiscus products their distinctive deep red color.

The dried flower components that go into making dried hibiscus can either be the actual petals of the hibiscus flower or, more frequently, the calyces, also referred to as the sepals, which are the leaves that resemble petals and are located just beneath the flower. The characteristic hibiscus flavor comes from both the calyces and the petals. Hibiscus plant stems should not be consumed since their flavor and nutritional value are different.

Hibiscus tea, which has a tart, strong flavor reminiscent of cranberries, is the most common way to consume dried hibiscus. Boiling water is used to brew the tea, which is then steeped for a few minutes before being drained. Hibiscus can be used fresh or dried. The tea can be served hot or cold, and honey or sugar are frequently used to sweeten it. It is significant to remember that hibiscus includes natural colors that can discolor surfaces, clothing, and skin.

Health Benefits

Many regions of the world, including Asia, the Caribbean, and Latin America, are fond of hibiscus tea and other dried hibiscus products, which are treasured for both their flavor and health advantages. Hibiscus is credited with a number of advantageous qualities in natural medicine, including lowering stress levels, enhancing digestion, and preventing certain degenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s. However, not all these therapeutic qualities have been demonstrated by science.

Unregulated Cocoa Sub-Sector Not In Smallholder Farmers’ Interest —CFAN

Source: Nigeria Tribune

COCOA farmers in Nigeria have lamented the unregulated cocoa economy in the country, stating that it is depriving the Nigeria Smallholder cocoa farmers from not joining Ivory Coast and Ghana in the collection of $400 per tonne known as Living Income Deferential (LID) paid to cocoa farmers aside the cocoa floor price in the cocoa producing countries by the International Cocoa Buyers.

National President of the Cocoa Farmers Association of Nigeria (CFAN), Adeola Adegoke,   said because of the Nigerian unregulated cocoa economy, there is no measure put in place to be able to collect this $400 aside the floor price that we sell our beans

“Why the farmers are bringing the issue out is because of the existing structure of supporting cocoa farmers with $400 per tonne aside the cocoa floor price. It is an existing structure to support smallholder farmers in Ghana, in Ivory Coast and the countries that are leading in world cocoa production.

“Because of our unregulated cocoa economy in Nigeria there is no measure put in place to be able to collect this $400 aside the floor price that we sell our beans. This $400 is an addition that is meant to support the livelihood of the cocoa farmers in all cocoa producing nations.

“In Ghana and Ivory Coast today, they are collecting it. If today Nigeria is been denied $400 per tonne, that is multiply by 265,000 metric tonnes that is running into about N55bilion

AfDB officials seek increased investment in cassava in Nigeria

Source: Premium Times

The Director of Agriculture and Agro-industry of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Martin Fregene, has said increasing investment in cassava production in Nigeria will reduce the annual food importation bill of African countries estimated at about $35 billion.

The AfDB official who was represented by Tabi Karikari, AfDB’s Agriculture and Natural Resources Management Officer, made the remark while speaking during the National Cassava Seed Summit in Abuja on Thursday.

The summit themed: ‘Catalyzing and Scaling Private Sector-Led Cassava Seed Development,’ was organized by the Foundation for Partnership Initiatives in the Niger Delta (PIND) in partnership with Building an Economically Sustainable Integrated Cassava Seed System, Phase 2 (BASICS-II) and International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA).

It is aimed at bolstering private sector-led investment in the cassava seed sector, as well as identifying and engaging stakeholders on the policy reforms required to galvanize the cassava seed sector in order to raise productivity and drive industrial growth projections.

The development bank officials also called for the mechanisation of cassava planting and harvesting, combined with high-yielding variety and complementary agronomy practices that will lead to higher competitiveness and economic breakthrough for the cassava farmers.

Casssa is a versatile staple crop in Nigeria majorly grown by small-scale farmers for arrays of food types (Garri, fufu, cassava flour etc), a significant and affordable delicacy in the country and Africa at large.

Rapid multiplication and prospects

Mr Fregene said the available technology toolkit for the cassava compact was already in use, and that the laboratory propagation technique (Semi-Autotrophic Hydroponics Technology) for rapid multiplication of the seed and commercial dissemination provides high quality disease-free stem cuttings.

“The National Cassava private sector-led Seed Development Summit is particularly important at this time as there is a growing need to leverage resources from private sector players in filling the financing gap in the sector, while providing opportunity for agri-preneurship and agri-business growth. May I mention the need to also accelerate the deployment of other toolkits, notably mechanisation and modern processing technologies,” he added.

In his remarks, Alfred Dixon, IITA’s Director, Development and Delivery Office, underscored the imperative of deploying technologies and innovations to boost food production in Nigeria and Africa.

He canvassed for vibrant promotion of inclusive investment in the cassava sector while calling for strategies for launching cassava into a high performing and growth-oriented sub-sector.

“We have made progress but more needs to be done to achieve the cassava sector of our dream in Nigeria. Our yield per hectare must increase significantly above 20 tonnes per ha up from the current 9 tonnes per ha to make us globally competitive,” Mr Dixon said.

He said the cassava sector needs to attract new investments to curb importation of other alternatives and save foreign exchange, saying jobs and wealth need to be created to engage the young men and women so as to have a prosperous nation.

“Cassava must remain a pillar and beacon of our food security,” he added.

On his part, Dara Akala, executive director, Foundation for Partnership Initiatives in the Niger Delta, said his organisation has since 2016 invested almost $ 800,000 to increase cassava productivity, strengthen coordination and relationships of cassava value chain actors, and promoted improved technologies for cassava production in the Niger Delta region.

“Through this, we have effectively reached approximately 300,000 farmers with information and training, facilitated the creation of almost 2,500 jobs and a network of 150 service providers,” he explained.

Digital agric as panacea to food production, security

Source: Guardian

Recent studies on Africa’s agriculture market project an estimated growth to $1 trillion by 2030. This shows that the continent’s agriculture industry has huge potentials. Informed suggestions have been made on how the full gains of this fast-emerging market will be achieved; one of which is through digital agriculture.

There is no doubt that modern farms and agricultural operations are carried out differently from how farming was done in the last 20 years. This is mainly as a result of advancements in technology. Like almost all spheres of life, technological advancements have made an in-road into agriculture to address such challenges as climate change – leading to increased temperature, changes in rainfall patterns, frequent extreme weather events and reduction in water availability.

Digital agriculture or agricultural technology benefits both farmers and end consumers by reducing the use of traditional/archaic farming methods and generating higher crop productivity. Digitising agriculture also saves resources such as water, fertilizers and pesticides; reduces the impact on natural ecosystems; reduces chemicals getting into rivers and streams and increases safety of farm workers. It is for this reason that the digitalisation of agriculture should be part of the larger agricultural transformation agenda in Africa.

Over the years, there have been numerous digital agricultural initiatives and startups which by leveraging technologies, have led to improving farmer productivity, incomes, strengthening food security and enhancing the resilience of food systems in the continent.

Sadly, the impact on smallholder farmer incomes is still poor. This is not unconnected to the fact that access to technology in developing countries is an enabler of accelerated agricultural innovation. In Nigeria today, some digital firms are focusing on ensuring that smallholder farmers benefit from the new technology revolution in agriculture.

Platforms like Babban Gona, Thrive Agric and Agro Rite were created to give smallholder farmers access to resources critical to their work and the growth of the agricultural sector. But these solutions are still available to a meagre percentage of the hundreds of thousands of smallholder farmers scattered across Nigeria; and these smallholder farmers still battle with the three-fold challenge of poor access to market, poor access to finance and inadequate knowledge of improved farming practices.

According to a recent report by BCG titled ‘The Digital Agriculture Revolution,’ agricultural productivity will need more than innovation. Already, greater crop yields are required to feed Nigeria’s exploding population. The population of Nigeria has been forecasted to reach over 400 million people by 2050. Estimations published in 2019 show that by that time, the consumption of farm produce such as eggs, milk, beef, cassava, maize, wheat and others will increase by almost 300 per cent! If not properly addressed, this scenario might lead to a full-blown food insecurity situation.

The truth is that lack of information and knowledge is most limiting to the growth of the sector. This presents a challenge to food security because access to the right information, education, and training enables farmers to make use of new farming knowledge and technologies.

This being the case, farmers’ knowledge and information must be constantly upgraded. Farmers must have access to information about sustainable farming practices to enable them maintain natural resources to ensure that farmlands are productive for future generations. For Nigeria to have environmentally good food systems, farmers and other stakeholders need to have effective communication technologies coupled with relevant information.

Furthermore, the Nigerian agriculture sector must adapt climate-smart practices and technologies to increase productivity as food production demands increase. Presently, Nigeria like other countries in Africa, still relies on rainfall to water farms. With climate change and reduced rainfall as mentioned earlier on, there is the need for intensified water management and alternative sources of rain water to irrigate the farmlands. In cities like Florida and California, USA and Beijing, China; farmers have used reclaimed water to irrigate their farms. Reclaimed water is wastewater that has been treated and transformed into a product that is clean, clear and odourless.

There is need for stakeholders to keep investing in modern ways of farming. The emergence of integrated data sets combining satellite imagery, weather and soil data is a modern approach that can be leveraged by development partners. This will empower farmers with more affordable credit and insurance, better early warning of crop failures and improved farm management. Such practices will cushion the sector from negative effects of climate change while adapting to sustainable food systems.

In addition to innovation, bridging capital, coupled by right capabilities is pivotal in transforming the agricultural sector in the continent. For farmers to benefit from fully functional market ecosystem, there is need for players in the agricultural supply chain to prioritize on efficient, transparent and innovative ways of connecting farmers to markets. This is where ICT enabled technologies come into play. Mobile-phone-based services can ease farmers’ access to knowledge on extension services, market information, weather forecasts and agronomic advice. Furthermore, they can offer price information services for inputs and outputs, enable demand, and supply aggregation, and facilitate e-marketplaces.
Oyekan is partner, BCG Lagos.

In fact, the Technical Centre of Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) estimates that market linkage solutions deliver, on average, a 73 per cent improvement in farmer productivity (including through access to lower-cost seeds and fertilizer) versus just 23 per cent for digital advisories. Our review of dozens of current market solutions revealed several successful alternatives, but no one-size-fits-all approach. This is a clear indication that agriculture is modernising. Unfortunately, domestic agriculture markets in many developing countries remain fragmented and inefficient, making it imperative for digital agricultural innovations to address such situations.

The beauty about digital agriculture is that it could help rural-urban migration and get young people to drive rural development because of the use of technology. The increased use of digital technology in farming and agricultural activities might actually attract and retain younger generations to live in rural communities.

For Nigerian farmers, adoption of digital agriculture will wholly enable access to various information including information on inputs, weather and soil condition; processing and storage resources: markets and finance; and food monitoring and consumption requirements.

Hopefully, if Nigerian farmers and others in the food supply chain embrace this technology, digital agriculture could help to maximize production and reduce waste; reduce costs of production and increase yields; minimize environmental impact and maximize quality of agriculture produce.

The cross-cutting nature of the digital solutions will continue to improve interconnectedness among stakeholders in the agricultural value and supply chains. This will improve efficiencies, productivity earnings in the sector while feeding the growing population sustainably and improving livelihoods of Nigerian farmers. 

It is important to note that to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of a ‘world with zero hunger’ by 2030, more productive, efficient, sustainable, inclusive, transparent and resilient food systems are required – and this can largely be achieved with digital technologies and innovations in agriculture.

SON Unveils Standards to Checkmate Rejection of Nigeria’s Agro Commodities

Source: This Day

The Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) has introduced fresh standards to combat the high level of rejection faced by Nigeria’s agricultural commodities at the global markets.

The move according to the standards body is apt and timely to make Nigeria agro commodities competitive at the international markets, especially with the introduction of African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).

The Director General, SON, Mallam Farouk Salim, stated this on the sidelines of the visit of SON Governing Council to audit SON’s facilities in Ogba area of Lagos.

According to him, most of the times when Nigerian goods are rejected, it is due to failing to go through standard procedure locally before exporting to other countries, saying that as long as exporters continue to ignore local available standards, their products would continue to be rejected.

He added: “Exporters do not check the standards of the country they are exporting to so as long as our exporters ignore our standards, they will still have their products rejected, but if they follow the procedures, we are here to partner and assist them to make sure that their products are accepted globally.”

“If the exporters come through us and they follow the standards of our country and they follow the standards of the country they are exporting to, then they should not have a problem,” he assured.

He added that the standards that were approved were painstakingly developed through stakeholders’ input and consideration, pointing out that the move was an indication that standards body is working very hard to ensure that products in this country are not only up to standards, but produced for export.

Earlier, the Chairman, SON Governing Council, Mrs. Evelyn Ngige, said a total of 37 new standards has been unveiled to boost Nigeria’s industrial development.

She explained that three out of the 37 new standards were reviewed; eight were newly developed while 26 have been adopted for the existing international standards.

According to her, the approved standards, which cut across various sectors of the Nigerian economy, are in line with the approved Nigerian Industrial Standardisation Strategy, which focuses on stakeholders and market demands for optimisation of available resources.

She noted that 10 of the standards are developed for chemical technology in particular for plastic piping products, thermoplast pipes, human and synthetic hair extension.

IsDB to release $150m for Nigeria’s agro-industrial zones

Source: Punch

The Islamic Development Bank has said it will in the next few days release the sum of $150m for the development of Special Agro-Processing Zones in Nigeria.

The Vice President, Country Operations, IsDB, Dr Mansur Muhtar, confirmed this on Tuesday during a panel session at the 5th African International Conference on Islamic Finance in Abuja.

According to Muhtar, Islamic finance offers several features and practices that support infrastructural growth.

He said, “Islamic banking is asset-backed and based on participation and risk sharing, we also have to look at other elements which are the social and environmental sustainability that are consistent with Islamic principles of supporting infrastructure.

“At IsDB, we focus on projects in social and fiscal infrastructure to implement these projects we place a lot of emphasis on regional connectivity.

“For example, in Nigeria, in the next couple of days, the IsDB will be making a contribution to a project that is aimed at supporting the development of special agricultural processing zones and we will be committing $150bn. We have also been involved in several other projects in Nigeria.”

In September, the African Development Bank disclosed that it was collaborating with other multilateral organisations to finance with the sum of $520m the first phase of Special Agro-industrial Processing Zones in some selected states across Nigeria.

Producing tomato paste in Nigeria: Tomato Jos’ seven-year journey

Source: How we made it Africa

Nigerian agro-processing company Tomato Jos, led by American-born entrepreneur Mira Mehta, last month officially launched its tomato paste factory in Kaduna State, almost seven years after it first started growing tomatoes in the country. The facility is said to be the third-largest of its kind in Nigeria and can produce one carton of tomato paste sachets every minute.

Construction of the factory began in January 2020 but was put on hold owing to Covid-19-related restrictions. Building was recommenced in August 2020 and the Italian processing equipment worth €3.5 million arrived in November. In March this year, Tomato Jos had its first production test run.

The company aims to soon introduce its branded tomato paste sachets in the Nigerian market.

Tomato Jos spent five years focusing exclusively on its farming operations before investing in the factory. “De-risking the upstream side of the [business] was unsexy and didn’t make headlines but it will make the factory successful,” says Mehta in a Twitter post.

According to the CEO, the trick to running a successful tomato-processing venture is to first ensure a consistent supply of tomatoes of sufficient quality and at the right cost. If a tomato paste factory doesn’t have an adequate tomato supply, it won’t be profitable. “If your capacity utilisation drops below 80%, your cost per tonne of production will balloon up, and you won’t be able to make money from your finished product,” Mehta explains.

“Instead of making paste one batch at a time, you need to constantly feed raw materials into your factory, every hour of every day, to spread the huge energy costs over as high a volume of finished product as possible.”

Maximising Nigeria’s Opportunities for Agricultural Exports

Source: This Day

Gilbert Ekugbe in this piece tasked the federal government to urgently address challenges fuelling the low level of exports of agricultural goods relative to total exports.

There is no gain saying that Nigeria’s agriculture sector, which used to be the mainstay of the Nigerian economy still has the potential to change the country’s narrative as an import dependent economy to one that could serve as a food basket to Africa.

In 2020, Nigeria recorded a total of N321 billion of agricultural export. The agricultural sector contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew to 23.78 per cent in Q2 from 22.35 per cent in Q1 2021. The figure also goes to say that Nigeria is yet to scratch the surface of the sector’s potentials.

According to data from the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Nigeria’s top agro export crops include sesame seed, which has continued to be Nigeria’s agricultural export biggest earner for some years.

During the period under review, Nigeria made the sum of N112.8 billion from the export of the product and this accounted for 38.9 per cent of the top 10 agricultural products. Top destinations for the product include Japan, China, Turkey, India, and Vietnam, while cocoa exportation is Nigeria’s second largest agricultural export.

During the period under review, cocoa export was estimated to be N109.6 billion, accounting for 37.8 per cent of the top agricultural exports. The top destinations for the product were Germany, Netherlands, Spain, Indonesia, Belgium, Malaysia and Estonia.

Cashew nuts were Nigeria’s third biggest agricultural export product during the period. A total of N38.2 billion was recorded from export of cashew nuts in 2020 and the top destination countries were Vietnam, India, USA, Russia and the Netherlands.

Frozen foods such as shrimps and prawns accounted for 3.4 per cent representing the biggest export in Nigeria estimated at N9.85 billion in 2020. The Netherlands, Belgium, France, Vietnam, and the USA are top destinations for the export of the products.

Although, there are renewed efforts by the federal government to diversify the economy away from hydrocarbon resources, but these efforts leaves much to be desired as the agriculture sector is still beset with myriad of challenges hindering the sector’s ability to take Nigeria out economic doldrums.
Challenges of agricultural export

The Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC) said that Nigeria has been unable to convert its enormous comparative advantage in the production of several agricultural primary produce to competitive advantage in the global market as a result of supply chain constraints.

Some of the challenges identified by the council include poor packaging, labelling, poor storage facilities and preservatives and the likes. The Chief Executive Officer, NEPC, Mr. Olusegun Awolowo, said it was as a result of this that the council proposed to establish the Domestic Export Warehouse (DEW), a one-stop facility and terminal for storage of products, packaging and labeling, pre-shipment inspection and fumigation of export designated goods in preparation for ultimate transportation to the ports.

Awolowo said that the DEW once operational, would increase the global market share for Nigerian exportable agricultural products, help in the diversification of the economy, attract investors to the non-oil sectors and provide a platform for interface between export-related agencies and export practitioners.

He also included poor logistics and documentation among the challenges hindering Nigeria’s export market, adding that these challenges could make or mar export transactions.

According to a PwC’s survey that was conducted in 2018, Nigeria loses about $10 billion on non-oil exports due to gridlock at the nation’s major two seaports, the Apapa and Tin Can Ports. These ports were responsible for processing the bulk of Nigeria’s export trade activities.

The survey said that infrastructure and logistics challenges have continued to impact export, as well as import activities.

Low value addition

Lack of value addition to the nation’s agricultural products has resulted to significant losses in earnings accountable to the country over the years. Agriculture is a worthwhile investment that could generate higher returns, allow penetration of a new potentially high-value market, extend the production season, create a brand identity and develop brand loyalty.

In simple terms, value addition would allow the farmer to focus on the consumer while producing and thoroughly meeting consumers’ expectations. This way, a farmer could create a loyal market around the product. As farmers struggle to find ways to increase farm income, the potentials in adding value to raw agricultural products have to be understudied as the value of farm products could be increased in endless ways.

The Registrar of the Nigerian Institute of Animal Science (NIAS), Mr. Eustace Iyayi, identified poor value addition as a major problem bedeviling the agricultural sector.

Iyayi stressed that product differentiation as a value addition strategy is easier for goods that have been processed, transformed, packaged and labeled.

He underscored that there is a need for the federal government to add value to agriculture produce in order to galvanise export earnings.

Poor quality products

Due to poor handling of agricultural products (post and pre-harvest seasons) diseases and pests attack as well as excessive use of pesticides for preservation purposes are also some of the major issues hindering agriculture export.

Recently, the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) alerted members of the public about some vendors applying poisonous chemicals to preserve their food to the detriment of the health of Nigerians. Little wonder most of Nigerian agro commodities are being rejected at the global scene.

The Director General of NAFDAC, Mrs. Mojisola Adeyeye, said over 76 per cent of Nigeria’s exported agricultural commodities are often rejected by the European Union for not meeting required standards.

The Associate Director and Head of Agribusiness, PwC, Mr. Taiwo Oyaniran, said that with growing globalisation and increasing emphasis on quality agricultural products, which is benchmarked on international food safety standards, it has become imperative for the Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Services (NAQS) to put in place appropriate risk management measures and provide required guarantees on agricultural products leaving the shores of the country so as to prevent sour relationship with its trading partners.

Agric stakeholders’ recommendation

An agribusiness expert and Director General of Premier Agribusiness Academy, Mr, Toromade Francis, in a chat with THISDAY, called for the institutionalisation of in Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), saying that it is not enough to grow cocoa in Nigeria but meeting global best practices to prevent the high level of rejection currently being faced by Nigeria’s agro commodities.

Francis said: “There are procedures and documentation for anything that you will send abroad. These things have to be enforced by government, but the challenge we have is that we do not even have enough to feed ourselves not to even talk of export. What you export is excess. We need to follow up on the yield per hectare for us to be self-sufficient. If we are not self-sufficient, exporting would be counterproductive.

“Our food production rate is not matching our population growth rate. Left for me, export is tertiary not even secondary. We should work on how we can feed ourselves first. Export is good but we do not need it now. What we need is self-sufficiency. People are crying of hunger. Let also try to talk about standards first. We should be in line with international best practices in whatever we are doing and until we do that nothing can be exported out of this country,” he said.

On his part, the National president, Agricultural Produce Sellers Association of Nigeria (APSAN), Mr. Aloys Akortsaha, said that Nigeria must redeem its image at the international scene to boost export of its agro commodities

Akortsaha advised that products leaving the shores of the country for export must be in line with global best practices.

He said: “If our products are produced taking cognizance of global best practices, the issue of rejection would be reduced to the barest minimum. My advice is that there must be an agency and there is an agency we are proposing called the Nigeria Agricultural Produce Quality Control Corps (NAPQCC). If this is signed into law it will help Nigeria’s quest to push its agro commodity to the world. I am calling on the Senate to take a look at this bill with all seriousness,.”

He also called on the need to strengthen the regulatory agencies saddled with the responsibilities of ensuring quality control, saying that the collaborations need to be improved upon.