The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, announced yesterday that Nigeria would formally export its first consignment of certified yams to the United Kingdom and United States on June 29, 2017.
He described the feat as a milestone that would bring Nigeria back into reckoning in the agricultural export market which it had lost for decades as a result of poor quality control and subsequent rejection of agricultural exports.
Among a number of initiatives to fast-track these interventions and solidify its base, the federal government has empowered the Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Services (NAQS) to make it more responsive to issues of safety and phytosanitary standards in food exports, so that its reports would be acceptable globally.
According to Ogbeh, it is meant to forestall the national embarrassments arising from the rejections of food exports on account of quality deficiency.
The federal government has also put in place a standing committee, technically supported by the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) and consisting of membership from critical and relevant agencies of the federal government.
The agencies are the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS), Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC), among others.
These agencies, working with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment (FMITI) and the Federal Ministry of Finance, have commenced work on an export control plan to target beans rejection and develop HS codes for other exportable commodities from Nigeria.
Complementing this arrangement is the presidential committee on â€˜Ease of Doing Business,â€™ which has included the dedication of ports to agro export to further reinforce the checks and balances on export of quality produce from Nigeria, for foreign exchange earnings and to strategically position Nigeria on the global business community.
Â The minister said he is committed to the realisation of improved exports through expert handling of fresh produce, cold storage and post-harvest loss management geared towards considerable reduction of rejection.