Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja
Scientific produce inspection has been identified as a major criterion for high quality produce to guarantee enhanced access of several Nigeria exportable agricultural produce to international market.
This assertion was made by the Director, Commodities and Products Inspectorate, Ministry of Industry Trade and Investment, Mrs. Omololu Opeewe at the 31st Conference of Directors of Produce Inspection Services in Lagos.
According to Opeewe, the rejection of Nigeria’s agro export in the International Market, especially the EU, has had a very negative impact on the perception of the country overseas.
To reverse this trend, she said that the Federal Produce Inspection Service (FPIS) was set to establish a world-class laboratory that would have the capacity to test for Aflatoxins contamination, moisture content and some microbiology parameters necessary for Nigeria’s produce going out of the country.
She also disclosed that the automation of the certification process of FPIS is ongoing.
With this development, according to her, electronic certificates issued by FPIS on quality, fumigation, packaging and weight will be aligned strategically online with other agencies such as Nigeria Custom Service, Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service, Central Bank and Nigeria Export Promotion Council.
She expressed optimism that the automation of the certification process of FPIS will achieve transparency, speed and efficiency which are the hallmarks of the present administration’s concern for ease of doing business.
In the communique issued at the end of the day days of exhaustive deliberations, the directors demanded among others things that all produce meant for export and local processing (food and cash crops) must be properly inspected, graded and passed by trained produce professionals.
They also requested that the number of control posts where all revenue items on haulage will be collected should be harmonised and reduced in each state to minimise multiple taxes.
Furthermore, they counseled that state governments should approve retention of 40% of total produce fees collected as Produce Development Fund or Produce Trust Fund.
They also called for collaboration with Nigerian Custom Service (NCS), Standard Organisation of Nigeria ((SON) among others on issues relating to standard of Exportable Agricultural Produce to prevent rejection at International markets.