The number of queries and rejection cases of exported agricultural produce from Nigeria has been witnessing a steady decline, the Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Agency and farmers have said.
It was gathered that improvement in produce preservation in Nigeria, which reportedly started about a year ago, accounted for the decline in the rejection of agro exports from the country.
The Head, Media, Communications and Strategies, NAQS, Dr Chigozie Nwodo, told our correspondent in Abuja that advocacy by agencies of government and various farmers’ associations had also helped.
He said, “We may give you a direct answer that it is the advocacy that we are doing in Kano, Katsina and other hinterlands that has led to the increase in successful produce exports. But the truth is that preservation has improved and this can be seen in the increased exports of agricultural commodities from Nigeria.”
“Also, there has been steady decline in the number of rejection and queries regarding the commodities that we’ve been exporting. The increase in exports is almost across all commodities in the past one or two years now.”
“So no matter how you look at it, there has not been a decline in agricultural exports from Nigeria in the past two years and this has definitely reduced post-harvest losses.”
The All Farmers Association of Nigeria also confirmed that more Nigeria’s agro commodities had been exported in the last one year.
Although the association could not give the percentage, the AFAN Chairman, Lagos Chapter, Femi Oke, told our correspondent that the increased exports of agro produce from Nigeria had also helped in reducing post-harvest losses.
He said, “Our farmers are doing well. For instance, some rice producers are now exporting the commodity and we don’t record rejection or queries. This is not only in the rice value chain.”
“We also have good reports in other value chains in the sector and that is why we have been recording reduced losses after harvesting our produce. We, however, believe that there is still much to be done to get to where we want to be in the sector.”
Speaking further on some of the things the government was doing to reduce the rejection of agro exports from Nigeria and post-harvest losses, Nwodo noted that prior to now, there had been complaints that agricultural products from Nigeria did not meet international standards
He said, “And because of this we decided to go back to the fields where the processes, cultivation and others start from, beginning from the tilling of the land, planting and weeding.”
“In fact we monitor the whole process across the value chain including the haulage, storage and, of course, post-harvest preservation. We try to guide farmers on the steps to be taken in order to maintain those commodities in a way that they will meet international standards.”
On how much the measures adopted by the NAQS had actually helped, Nwodo stated that they had increased the volume of agricultural exports from Nigeria.
“We do not have a figure at the moment in terms of what this has helped to achieve. But in terms of monitoring of those outreaches, because it comes mostly in the form of advocacy and awareness creation, you can estimate it by the increased exports of our produce,” he said.
Nwodo said the NAQS had carried out an export certification process in which it broke down the processes required for the export and adequate preservation of different commodities in a way that was understandable by the farmers.
He said, “It enables them to know what to do at every point in time; the kind of pesticides to use; the improved ways to cultivate crops; how to package, store and preserve their produce.”