The Federal Government has reaffirmed its commitment to Agro Zero Reject Initiative and pledged to ensure best practices in the food-handling chain, robust linkage among stakeholders and drive export in the agricultural sector.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Mohammad Abubakar, stated this during the briefing by the Standing Inter-Ministerial Technical Committee (SIMTC) in his office in Abuja.
Abubakar said that the ministry remained committed to promoting the Agro Zero Reject Initiative to bring all relevant actors together for seamless export business per Global Practice.
He revealed that the report of experts that evaluated the sanitary and phyto-sanitary (SPS) bodies like National Agricultural Quarantine Services (NAQS) had pointed out the gaps in the inspection and food safety protocols. He thus urged all agencies to work earnestly with the National Accreditation Services (NINAS) to fill the gaps in the evaluation conducted by the experts.
In his opening remarks, the director, Federal Department of Agriculture (FDA), Engr. Abubakar Garba, represented by Mr. Benard Ukattah, recalled that in 2015, the European Union (EU) banned the importation of Nigerian beans due to the high content of pesticide residues considered harmful to health.
Abubakar further revealed that few private companies had agreed to key into the implementation of the Pilot Action Plan to lift the ban and pave the way for admitting Nigerian products for export.
In his presentation, ‘Integrated Export Control Plan (IECP)’, a consultant to the committee, Dr. Simeon Umukoro stated that Nigerian authorities were expected to submit a detailed action plan with Information on the reasons/origin of the pesticide residues, information on growers, their training /certification, among others.
Umukoro added that an export control plan would be put in place to ensure farmers are trained in good agricultural practices, application of relevant codex alimentarius standards, tracing exported consignments to certified farmers, among others.
A statement by the ministry’s director of information signed by Mohammed Gana recalled that the Federal Government set up a committee to produce a working document towards getting the ban lifted.