Nigeria Exporters have constantly suffered losses due to rejection of their products by several developed countries across the globe. This has brought to the fore the importance of meeting international standards if Nigeria must improve her fortunes in export trade.

The President, Lagos Chambers of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Alhaji Remi Bello who disclosed this today during his opening remark at the National Agro-Commodity Export Stakeholders Forum organised by LCCI in collaboration with USAID Nigeria, held at the LCCI Conference and Exhibition Centre, Ikeja, Lagos, said Agro-allied products have suffered more setbacks as a result of the rejection.

Speaking on the theme: “Challenges to Meeting Sustainable International Standards”, Bello said the forum became important due to the recent European Union (EU) ban of some of Nigeria’s food items which includes beans, sesame seeds, melon seeds, fired fish, meat, peanut chips amongst others from entering Europe till June 2016, noting that there is an urgent to formalize processes of standardizing Nigerian export products to meet the EU set deadline.

He said to achieve this; there is a need to provide more credit support to exporters in order to acquire the necessary facilities and equipment to meet international standards.

According to the president, figures from the Central Bank Economic Report for the second quarter of 2015 revealed that “the total non-oil export earnings by Nigerian exporters during the second quarter of 2015 stood at US$631.54 million, indicating a decline of 64.9 and 75.1 percent below the levels in the preceding quarter and the corresponding period of 2014, respectively”.

Bello noted that the quest for diversification of the economy cannot be attained without Nigeria’s access to the international market.

He therefore called on the government to make available special intervention funds for exporters to boost their capacity to compete with the international brands and product. The president also urged all stakeholders in the agric sector, to devote resources and efforts to pursue the standardization of Nigeria products for the international markets across the globe.

Speaking with newsmen at the forum, the chairman of the Export Group, Dr. Obiora Maduthe said the challenge with Nigeria produce is the issue of poor quality, bad chemical residues, deliberate mixing of good and bad produce which is not only affecting the image of the country, but also her income.

Madu explained that the aim of the forum therefore is to bring together regulatory bodies and exporters and aid the collaboration between government agencies in order to map out plans on how to resolve the issue of rejection of the country’s products, as well as sensitizing the general public, stakeholders and government of the danger involved if actions are not taken immediately.

While delivering her keynote address, the head of Food Safety and Applied Nutrition Directorate, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and the Chairperson National Food Safety Management Committee, Mrs. Veronica Ezeh said the massive notification of export rejection from the EU over the years concerning the export of agricultural produce from Nigeria not meeting the international and national standard, has been a challenge to the agency.

Ezeh noted that some of these standard not met include; the maximum residues level for a control substance, high microbial load, poor good hygienic practice, poor good agricultural practice, poor good manufacturing practice, inadequate storage and inappropriate use of pesticides in our agricultural produce.

She further explained that the export rejection, as a result of illegal exportation and forging of export documents, is the function of the failure of regulatory procedures and the absence of effective boarder control that allows all type of unregistered products to be exported out of the country.

To meet international standard therefore, Ezeh said there is “the need for collaborative efforts of all regulatory authorities and relevant stakeholders, to come out with a framework for addressing the challenges that the country’s agricultural produce is facing in the international market”.

“Harmonization of national standards with sign base international standard is in the interest of all. This will not only enable developing countries respond expediently to meet the emerging export opportunities, but will also benefit the domestic consumers.

“In view of the above, there is the need for increase awareness about the need for manufacturers and exporters to either adopt their standard to the international standard provided by these three sister-setting bodies, The Codex Alimentarius Commission, World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), and the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) or apply for importing country standard for the export produce.” she said.

She noted that NAFDAC through a series of consultative and stakeholders meetings with the other relevant agencies, has agreed to sensitize and train agric exporters on how to comply with the national and international standard in order to improve their competiveness in the global trade.

Ezeh therefore reiterated the commitment of the agency to continue to strengthen the collaboration and information sharing with the MDS and the general public, to be sure that agricultural food export conforms with international standard in order to facilitate easy trade, protect consumers and the spread of diseases.

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