By James Emejo
The Director General, Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS), Dr. Vincent Isgebe, has stressed the need for collaboration among stakeholders to address the weak link in the cowpea value chain in order to establish continuity of market access for Nigerian beans.
He said the country losses foreign exchange and thousands of jobs when export of cowpea or any other agricultural commodity is suspended on account of a steady trend of intolerable quality defects.
Speaking during a strategic engagement with the President of Cowpea Association of Nigeria, Alhaji Shitu Mohammed, the NAQS boss said operators in the cowpea value chain must form a network of cooperatives and embrace the principle of scrupulous self-regulation.
He said as the people who benefitted most when the business is brisk, it behooves on all value chain players to take the initiative to ensure that good agricultural practices are observed in the entire process of producing export-destined cowpea.
In a statement by Head Media, Communications and Strategies, NAQS, Dr. Gozie Nwodo, Isegbe said:”The pattern of boom and bust in cowpea export owes to the ingrained issue of high pesticide residue. The pesticides are largely introduced during the storage phase.
“The residue levels in the cowpea tend to rise above the maximum threshold set by certain customs union and this makes the product unacceptable in crucial destinations.
“We need to make a clean break from imprudent application of storage pesticides and consolidate a reputation for producing and delivering cowpea that satisfy relevant quality criteria.”
Mohammed however, identified lack of awareness as the root cause of high pesticide residue at the storage endpoint, noting that stakeholders commonly regarded the liberal application of pesticides as a way to protect their produce from weevils and preserve the material value of their produce.
He said: “They didn’t know that they were effectively de-marketing the produce and setting up themselves not to make profit. The intervening period in which cowpea export has been at a low ebb has given stakeholders a light-bulb moment.
“They are now ready to adapt. Everyone is eager to go organic so that stability, momentum and growth can return to the value chain.”
He also expressed satisfaction to Isegbe for advancing the implementation of the work plan designed to remedy the contextual gaps that occasioned the recurring disruptions of cowpea export.