The Federation of Agricultural Commodities Association of Nigeria (FACAN) has urged the government to monitor farmers compliance with international standards to reduce rejections of Agric exports.
Presenting a paper, titled: The problems of exporting finished agricultural products at small and medium enterprises (SMEs) forum in Lagos,
National President of FACAN, Dr. Victor Iyama, said Nigeria has the potential to become a major Agric commodity trading hub, taking advantage of rising demand for Agric commodities globally.
He added that consumption of Agric commodities from Nigeria has increased.
At present, he said the United States, European Union (EU) and Asia were the largest importers of the nation’s Agric produce.
Despite this, he noted that there was a growing awareness about microbial and chemical food safety among consumers and this has led to rejections of produce due to non-compliance with EU requirements.
From reports, the EU has created the communication portal Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) by which its food control bodies notify each other when unsafe products have been detected and for which measures have been taken to protect consumers. These alerts are often based on the outcome of risk based inspections and monitoring plans by control bodies.
Due to rejections, he said huge amounts of produce were discarded which represent high economic losses and food waste.
To respond to this, Iyama explained that issuance of Sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) certificates to genuine exporters are importance if the government is to reduce rejections.
He reiterated the readiness of the association to work with the government to ensure compliance with internationally approved SPS standards that would help boost international trade, particularly for the agribusiness sector.
Iyama has called for incentives such as credit at affordable rates to boost Nigeria’s Agric exports.
He said: “We need incentives such as easy access to loans, better infrastructure, tax concessions etc. Most of all good governance, consistency of fairly formulated policies, level playing fields, and quick dispute resolution mechanism. We should encourage our private sector to help Nigeria in becoming a trade corridor for the African countries.”
He said, however, that the Agric commodities sector has had to grapple with a challenging operating environment in recent years, and one of them is inadequate power supply.
According to him, adequate power supply was critical, adding that the nation needs a constant power supply to keep the momentum of exports growth high, be it large-scale or small-scale food and agricultural operations targeting the exports market.
He explained that a shift from primary production to modern integrated agribusiness will provide lucrative opportunities to many smallholder farmers.
This, he added, however, can only be achieved if the power supply is adequate. He urged the government to speed up building “all projects that will ensure a modern infrastructure backbone for Agric exports growth.
Meanwhile, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) Investment and Technology Promotion Office (ITPO) in Nigeria has initiated a programme to help Nigeria end a decades-long dependence on oil and to diversify its economy.The programme, to be implemented with government institutions and private sector counterparts, encompasses a number of promotional activities to support the development of micro, small and medium-sized enterprise (MSME) clusters and the establishment of industrial parks, including in the agro-processing sector.