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‘Nigeria will never export sub-standard agric. produce’

Federal Government has assured that Nigeria will never export or ship sub-standard agriculture produce to international market.

Chief Audu Ogbeh, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, gave the assurance at a meeting with the Inter-ministerial Technical Committee on Zero Reject of Agricultural Produce and Non-oil Export in Abuja on Thursday.

Ogbeh, who was reacting to the 2016 European Union (EU) ban on Nigeria’s beans export, said relevant measures were being put in place to lift the ban and stop the export of low quality produce.

The minister, who commended the committee, appealed to members to ensure that the country met international standard of agricultural produce.

According to him, farmers must be educated to ensure quality produce not only for export but for local consumption too.

He added that “the world is in competition, driven by trade, buying and selling. Woe unto that country that only buys.

“This assignment is serious than just targeting export. It is about our survival and living well.

“Most of the beans we export are consumed by Africans, so, if we don’t sell the right kind of beans, we run the danger of hurting everybody, particularly our own people.

“The quality of our produce must be right. We can’t keep apologising. But with what you are doing, we must get back to that market.

“ By the time we do the first test export and everything goes well, we must stand by the oath we have taken and never again ship sub-standard produce to world market.”

Mr Filippo Amato, the Head of Trade and Economics Section of European Union Delegation, commended Federal Government for addressing the issue of quality and safety of agriculture commodities.

Amato said the EU, through the National Quality Infrastructure Programmme (NQIP) implemented by UNIDO, supported quality control plan in the country to enable the country to meet standard.

He added that the EU delegation was already consulting with Nigerian stakeholders on new competitiveness support programme that would focus on tomato, pepper and ginger value chain.

He noted that the programme would be launched in 2018.

On the UNIDO-NQIP Integrated Export Control Plan, Dr Shaukat Malik, the Chief Technical Adviser of UNIDO, said Nigerian authorities were expected to submit detailed action plan to the EU to avoid further rejections.

The inter-ministerial committee was inaugurated in 2016 as part of EU requirements to lift the ban on exportation of Nigeria’s dried beans.

The committee was also to facilitate the consumption of local produce and stop rejection of agricultural produce at the international market.

NAN


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