Processors, farmers and scientists have suggested ways to prevent monumental losses emanating from rejection of agro-allied products exported from Nigeria to other countries, especially Europe and America.
Some of the solutions, as identified by stakeholders, are good agronomical practices on the part of farmers and exporters, efficiency on of regulatory agencies, effective coordination by the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) and adherence to standards and specifications by farmers and exporters.
The President of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Ibrahim Kabir, while speaking with The Guardian on the way forward, said, “To the farmers, we have to adopt global agricultural best practices. We should use recommended agrochemicals such as insecticides and herbicides in the recommended quantity.”
Kabir also suggested that the government should create an enabling environment for farmers to work together for education on global agricultural best practices.
More good quality seeds, he added, all-year round farming facilities and acceptable agro-chemicals such as insecticides and herbicides should be made known to farmers.
“This is the work of regulatory agencies like the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and the Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Service Agency (NAQS),” he said.
The Catfish and Allied Fish Farmers Association of Nigeria (CAFFAN) recently said the United States of America had banned smoked fish from Nigeria for over one year ago.
Its president, Mr Rotimi Oloye, said the USA banned smoked fish from Nigeria following the failure follow regulatory requirements.
Deputy Vice Chancellor of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB), Professor Sanni Salami, advised agro-allied products exporters to adhere totally to the specifications by recipient countries to avoid loss of resources in the form of rejected products.
Similarly, Prof. Salami said farmers and food exporters should engage the services of professionals and get secure approvals from relevant the regulatory agencies, warning them to avoid shortcuts that could tarnish the image of the country and lead to rejection of products.
The administrator said both farmers and exporters should build capacity in their businesses by going for training courses, saying agro-businesses are now knowledge-driven.
Also, acting Executive Director of the Nigerian Institute for Oil Palm Research (NIFOR), Dr Celestine Ikuenobe, advised farmers, storage managers and exporters to meticulously do businesses according to the rules and regulations emplaced by the countries of destination while exporting products.
He, too, harped on the education of farmers and other stakeholders to avert the avoidable losses associated with rejection of the Nigerian agricultural products in the global markets.
A large-scale cassava farmer and processor, Mr Kolawole Adeniji, who exports finished products to Europe and America, said quality control of products should begin from land preparation, crop protection and storage.
He said excessive use of even recommended chemicals during land preparation and crop protection exercises would deposit on farm products.
Adeniji also suggested that farmers and exporters should develop markets and partnerships with memoranda of understanding that would spell out the mutually acceptable conditions for exports. This, he argued, would save the exporters from losses and devastation.
Professor Kolawole Adebayo, Regional Coordinator of the Cassava: Adding Value for Africa, hinged rejection of agricultural products from Nigeria in the global markets on three factors of uncompetitive prices, failure to meet global quality requirements and non-maintenance of a robust relationship with global value chain actors.
These, he said, could be turned around positively by correcting them.