By Kudirat Ogunyemi
Nigeria may officially export its first consignment of certified yams to the UK and U.S. by the end of June, Chief Audu Ogbeh, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, has said.
A statement by Mr. Olukayode Oyeleye, Special Assistant (Media and Communication) to the minister, said in Abuja on Friday that the Federal Government was committed to restoring Nigeria’s place in agro-commodities export market.
The market had been lost for decades as a result of poor quality control.
According to Ogbeh, Nigeria would officially export its first consignment of certified yams to the UK and U.S. by the end of June.
‘‘This will mark a milestone in the efforts we are making to bring Nigeria back into reckoning in the agricultural export market.
‘‘We lost this, decades ago, as a result of poor quality control and subsequent rejection of our agricultural exports.
‘‘Among a number of initiatives to fast-track these interventions and solidify our base, the Federal Government has empowered the Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Services (NAQS), to make it more responsive to issues of safety and phytosanitary standards in food exports.
‘‘The NAQS reports will become acceptable globally and this will forestall the national embarrassment arising from the rejections of food exports on account of quality deficiency,’’ he said.
He said that the Federal Government had also established a standing inter-ministerial technical committee on zero-reject of agricultural produce and non-oil exports in Nigeria.
Ogbeh said that the committee is co-chaired by the Minister of Agriculture and the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment and technically supported by the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO).
He added that the committee consists of membership from critical and relevant agencies of the Federal Government.
These agencies are the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Nigerian Customs Service, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON).
They also include Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS), Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC) are also part of the project.
He informed that the inter-ministerial committee had commenced work on an export control plan to target the country beans rejection and develop HS codes for other exportable commodities from Nigeria as recommended by the EU as part of the terms for lifting the ban on the beans export.
According to him, the Ministry of Agriculture plays a pivotal role since all productions start from the farms.
‘‘I affirm the commitment of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration to end the embarrassing rejection of Nigerian commodity and produce at the international market is irrevocable.
‘‘The health of Nigerians is also paramount and the populace needs good quality food as well.
‘‘There is nothing like Nigerian or local standards, but international standards to which we cannot but adhere in our local handling of food, consumption and export drive,’’ the minister said. (NAN)