The Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) has developed international standards for most of the country’s staple food products such as garri, dry beans, soya beans, rice and the likes.
The Director General, SON, Osita Aboloma, who disclosed this, said the move was to put an end to the high level of rejection faced by Nigeria’s agricultural produce at the international markets.
The SON boss represented by the Director, Standards Development, Chinyere Egwuonwu, at a media briefing in Lagos recently said: “For instance, as far as agriculture is concerned, the standards we developed are to ensure that our products meet the global benchmark, thereby forestalling a repeat of the rejection of our products as it happened recently at the international market.
“We have developed standards for many agricultural products, like Shea butter, dry beans, smoked fish, yam flour, plantain chips, sesame seeds, oil, Rice, Cocoa, Cocoa Butter and Garri.
“It will interest you to know that the standard we developed for garri is accepted globally and now adopted by countries in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). So, you need to appreciate that the standards we are talking about are indeed standard,” he stated.
He pointed out that out of the 800 standards it had produced in one year, 339 standards have been developed for the nation’s agricultural produce.
“Some of the standards include the anti-bribery and corporate governance standards, the African traditional medicine, human resource management, hotel management, to mention a few.
The standards for agricultural produce were developed to end the reject, of exportable Nigerian farm produce at the global market. So far, the agency had developed standards for Nigeria’s dry beans, smoked fish, yam flour, cocoa, plantain chips, rice, garri, sesame seeds, oil and many more,” he added.
According to him, the standards would act as a code of conduct for the agriculture value chain ranging from planting, processing, harvesting, packaging and transporting these goods within and outside the country.
He noted that SON has continued to use standardisation and certification to support businesses to grow and be sustainable.
He said SON’s goals are to use standardisation and quality assurance to promote the federal government’s economic development policies such as economic diversification, Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), Ease of Doing Business, Backward Integration as well as agricultural and industrial revolution
He appealed to all operators, stakeholders, manufacturers, entrepreneurs, including MSMEs players to work with SON, urging them to feel free and patronise the standards it had put in place for business growth and sustainability, restating its commitment to ensure that local industries are protected from unfair competition as a result of sub-standard imported goods.
“SON is therefore opening up new vistas and opportunities for farmers, agro-allied operators and commodity exporters. We are taking up agro products from farm to when they come to the table as meal. The aim for the uniformity of standards for agricultural products with CODEX, the global body responsible for food safety, is to boost food export and stop rejections of local agro products overseas due to quality and integrity concerns,” he averred.
The SON helmsman added that the agency has also coordinated the development of standards for Nigeria’s smoked fish, yam flour, cocoa, plantain chips, rice, garri, sesame seeds oil and many more in the agro and allied sector.
“All these standards deliberately address the agricultural value chain from planting, harvesting, processing and packaging to transportation. That is, from farm to the table within and outside the country,” he said.
The DG therefore added that in support of the federal government’s dogged fight against corruption, it developed two unique standards, anti-bribery management system standard and the good governance standard.
“It is important to also draw your attention to newly approved Nigeria Industrial Standards on African traditional medicine, human resource management, as well as tourism and hotel management among many others.
“The expected value, derivable from standardised African traditional medicine cannot be over-emphasised, particularly with the abundance of potent medicinal plants on the continent and Nigeria in particular.
The standards for human resource management and tourism are also targeted at capacity development in support of the government’s economic diversification agenda and improvement in foreign exchange earnings,” he said
He pointed out that as far as agriculture is concerned, the standards developed were to ensure that Nigerian products meet the global benchmark, thereby forestalling a rejection of our products at the international markets as it happened in the recent past.