The Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) has backed government’s plan to implement recommendations of the 17-member committee set up to ensure zero rejection of Nigeria’s products in world markets.
The Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the council, Mr Olusegun Awolowo, stated this in an interview in Abuja on Monday
Awolowo said it was important for Nigeria to ensure that all its food items were safe for consumption by taking the necessary precautions.
“We need to have safety measures in place for all our food items.
“We conceived a Zero Reject Committee recently.
“And I am so glad the Federal Government has adopted the plan of that 17-member committee.
“Once we implement it we will be able to meet all these.
“So we have to get all these quality infrastructure right.
“It’s not something we will do overnight.
“We are looking for transformational export products that we’ll market.’’
It will be recalled that after last year’s ban on beans export from Nigeria by the EU, the Federal Government quickly constituted an inter-agency committee with the objective of achieving zero rejection of the country’s non-oil export products and improving revenue earnings for government.
The committee comprised of trade information, export procedures and documentation, and capacity building, quality standards and compliance.
The committee was tasked to recommend ways to tackle the issue of rejects associated with Nigeria’s produce in the long term.
Members of the committees were drawn from government agencies such as the NEPC, Ministry of Trade and Investment, Standards Organisation of Nigeria, Nigeria Custom Service, Central Bank of NigeRia and the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration Control.
It was also mandated to ensure that the country’s image at the international scene was revitalised.
Counsellor and Head of Trade and Economic Section of the EU delegation to Nigeria Mr Filippo Amato, said Nigeria needed to design a plan that would indicate that exportable food items were safe for consumption.
Amato said that the EU ban became necessary because it was observed for more than two years that more than 70 per cent of dry beans from the country contained dichlorvos.
He said that after an interaction with relevant Nigerian authorities, it became clear that the problem seemed not to have been completely addressed.
“We need to have more guarantees.
“We need to have an export control plan, which shows that a number of measures have been taken to make sure that during farming and during the harvest of this product, pesticide is not used.
“We must also ensure that pesticide is not used for storage and just before it is exported.
“This can be extended to other products and this might benefit all non-oil exports to Europe.
“So I think this is a good time to address this problem because it could be beneficial to Europe.’’
He said the European Union was providing support to the county through its national quarantine infrastructure project.
Amato advised Nigerian authorities to ensure that the relevant agencies worked closely with the private sector for the safety of food items meant for export.