In a bid to address the issues hindering the activities of food supply chain management, handling, regulations on importation and exportation, stakeholders have brainstormed on the way forward to boost Nigeria’s food and beverage industry.
Stakeholders believe that investors have continued to see food distribution and retailing as a lucrative opportunity in the nation, saying that with Nigeria improving its macro and socio-economic conditions, the industry is the best way to tap into increasing spending power in the country.
The Acting Director General, National Agency for Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Mrs. Yetunde Oni, explained that Nigeria has great potential in agriculture, noting that it is the responsibility of regulatory authorities to collaborate with stakeholders in the food industry on value addition for agricultural commodities for local consumption and export.
Oni, during a three-day multi-sector Food Nigeria Conference and Exhibition in Lagos, said food safety was a growing concern in all parts of the world including Nigeria, maintaining that the supply of safe food to consumers promotes national economies, trade and tourism, food security and ensures sustainable development.
According to her, the success of the food and beverage sector depends on consistent selling of safe foods and beverages while also maintaining consumer confidence in food and beverage supply.
“NAFDAC is happy to collaborate with food Nigeria at this exhibition to ensure that the goods exhibited are certified. We are particularly excited about this programme which could not have come at a better time than now when the government of Nigeria is shifting from the oil sector to the agricultural sector. We want to use this food exhibition to educate all the exhibitors on what the food safety programme is all about and what they have to do to get their products registered because any food products that will be sold must have NAFDAC certification. We are also here to educate the exhibitors on the process and procedures involved in registering their food products. We know that these products are all aimed at ensuring food security and in the long run, improve the economy of Nigeria and also provide job opportunities,” she said.
She said in order to carry out the agency’s regulatory activities, it has put in place transparent and user-friendly regulations to protect consumer health and promote fair practices in food trade, saying that in this challenging economic terrain, collaborative efforts from all the regulatory agencies and relevant stakeholders is required to come up with a framework for addressing the quality and presentation of made-in-Nigeria food products.
“This would encourage Nigerians to redirect their consumption pattern from imported products to made-in-Nigeria products to enhance wealth creation and creation of job opportunities for the nation’s teeming unemployed youths.
In her words, “We are also looking at attracting foreign food companies into the country to explore the opportunities available in the country and this is a policy that NAFDAC will begin to enforce sooner than now. If we bring in the technologies, it is going to make production cheaper because we have the labour here, we are also going to engage people here and we also have the market here. We need collaborate with these foreign companies to carry out their processes here so that our local producers can borrow a leaf from them to begin to set up their own factories that will be of international standards. This is the way to go. There is beauty in many people being in the business because it gives room for healthy competition.”
She noted that the exhibition will provide an avenue for meaningful interaction between foreign and local food and beverage manufacturers, distributors and consumers, appealing on key stakeholders to ensure that food and beverage are of good quality, warning that fake food products poses global threat endangering lives.
On the EU ban on Nigeria’s beans, she said the agency has put in a framework so that by the time EU taking cognizance of the right procedures and processes, adding that EU will have no doubt than to grant made-in-Nigeria food products entry into the EU markets.
The Director, Food and Drug Services, Federal Ministry of Health, Mrs. G Chukwumah, said the ministry is working towards ensuring that all food produced in Nigeria are safe for human consumption, saying that stakeholders are working towards the overall objectives of eliminating or reducing to the barest minimum the incidence of food poisoning in Nigeria.