Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has said that it intends to collaborate with other agencies like the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Services (NAQS) to put an end to the incidence of rejection of food exports from Nigeria in some European countries and the United States of America.
According to NAFDAC, the ugly trend may soon become a thing of the past if collaboration between it and other government agencies at the ports is strengthened.
The Director General, NAFDAC, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, made the assertion at the inauguration of the new NAFDAC office complex at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport/NAHCO, Lagos where she lamented that over 70 per cent of food exports from Nigeria are rejected abroad with huge financial losses to the exporters and the country at large.
A statement by the Resident Media Consultant to NAFDAC, Sayo Akintola, on Sunday, quoted the DG as saying that the deplorable state of export trade facilitation for regulated products leaving the country has continued to be a serious cause for concern for her agency, adding that a trip to NAFDAC export warehouses within the international airport will explain unequivocally the major reason for the continuous rejection of Nigerian exports abroad.
She, however, noted that the agency is responding to this great challenge by initiating a collaborative adventure with the government agencies at the ports towards ensuring that goods are of requisite quality and meet the regulatory requirements of the importing countries and destinations before such are even packaged and hauled to the ports for shipment.
Adeyeye stated that this raises the need for a more enhanced regulation of export – packaging, pre-shipment testing and certification — to provide some quality assurance and minimize rejects.
To save the nation’s reputation in international commerce, she called on all stakeholders in the export trade to see this as a call to duty and collaborate with NAFDAC for the sake of the country and its collective future.
‘’The mandate to safeguard the health of the populace through ensuring that food, medicines, cosmetics, medical devices, chemicals and packaged water are safe, efficacious and of the right quality in an economy that is overwhelmingly dependent on importation of the bulk of its finished products and raw materials could never have been actualized without effective presence of NAFDAC at the ports and land borders,’’ she said.
Adeyeye commended the NCS for the symbiotic relationship that exists between its management and the agency, adding that: ‘’Without Customs, we will not be able to do a lot of what we have been able to do. The collaboration between Customs and NAFDAC is huge.
“NAFDAC is a complex organization. We are scientific. We are police and we work with DSS. We work with Interpol and FBI because of the few stakeholders that are unscrupulous. NAFDAC collaborates with Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Services to ensure that due diligence is done because over 70 per cent of the products that leave our ports get rejected.
“Considering the money spent on getting those products out of the country, it is a double loss for both the exporter and the country.
‘’Without the police, we cannot do much in terms of investigation and enforcement. We have over 80 policemen with us in NAFDAC. They help us a lot when we are doing raids or investigations as the case may be.”