Says panacea to rejection of agric commodities abroad, boost govt’s revenue
As Law will safeguard health of Nigerians, benefit Nigerians
5, 160 Nigerians killed by food poisoning annually
Organizes experts/stakeholders’ workshop
By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
The Nigerian Economic Summit Group, NESG, Thursday, urged the National Assembly to pass the Food Safety and Quality Bill 2019 into law for the benefit of the Nigerian economy.
The call was made by the Chief Executive Officer, CEO, NESG, The Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Economic Summit Group, NESG, Laoye Jaiyeola, at the Experts/Stakeholders Workshop organised by NESG in Abuja.
Jaiyeola said on the basis of diversifying the economy, there is need to pass the Food Safety and Quality Bill into law if food production, processing, packaging, health, and profit making will be harnessed.
Some of the stakeholders that attended the workshop include the Food and Agriculture Organisation, FAO, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Federal Ministry of Science and Technology, Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment, Federal Ministry of Health, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, AGRA, Nigeria Economic Summit Group, NESG, and others.
He said: “What we are doing today is very important and all of us know that while oil still remain our major source of revenue, we need to diversify and you can hear even the government talking about non-oil inflow, and unfortunately despite the work that our people put in we either turned back there from overseas because of the quality of our exports.
“And the number of reasons is responsible for this; the environment is one and sometimes too many people are involved in the area of quality control and the intention is to effectively ammonize it and to ensure whatever it is we send from Nigeria is of international quality.
“What this will do is that not only will it make our farmers a lot better and richer if you know that the agric sector accounts for the highest employer of labor, and there is need we worry about unemployment if we tweak this to work more people will see the need to stay in agric.
“Aand again because value addition is where the money is, we then move to a realm where people are not just exporters of crops, then they will be exporters of refined, value added goods, and what have you.
“So this is very important and what we are doing again is just to put our hearts there in the ring and bring all stakeholders together and then use the opportunity to urge the National Assembly that this is something that will be in the interest of Nigeria and the interest of everyone as long as we can get it pass to law and Mr. President can sign it.”
He also pointed that the Buhari-led administration has been emphatic about lifting out 100 million Nigerians out of poverty.
“You all know that lifting people out of poverty is one of the things that is very primary to Mr. President and reaching to the people in rural communities is another thing that is important to him, so that is why we are joining hand to bring everybody together so that is the focus of passing this bill.
He also added that, “What we are trying to do is to make National Assembly realize that this bill is very important it is a national interest and if they is an thing that we all need to work together with stakeholders to cross our Ts and dote our is let’s do it together.”
Meanwhile, stakeholders at the workshop pointed it has become imperative for modernization and its impact on food safety has increasingly become an important factor in governance due to its effects on public health, agriculture, trade and investment, poverty, hunger and tourism.
According to them in Nigeria, the food value chain (Farm-to-Fork) is undergoing considerable transformation as government intensifies its efforts to improve safety by reviewing and updating key components of the national food safety control system.
The challenges affecting food safety include improper agricultural practices; Poor hygiene at all stages of the food chain; Misuse of chemicals and addictives; Additives used above permitted levels; Microbiological contaminants; Inappropriate food storage and handling; Biological toxins; Pesticide and veterinary residues; Counterfeiting, adulteration and misbranding, and others.
According to experts, foodborn diseases make 600 million people ill and cause 420, 000 premature deaths annually, and Africa bears one-third of this death toll although it accounts for only 16 per cent of the world population.
Meanwhile, the Federal Ministry of Health, disclosed that 5, 160 Nigerians killed annually. the economic impact of foodborne diseases translates into productivity losses of $95 billion a year in low-and middle-income countries alone, most of it in Africa and Asia.