The Inter-Ministerial Technical Committee on “Zero Reject” for agriculural commodities and non-oil exports in Nigeria held a 3-Day workshop in Abuja. The workshop was a collaboration between the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural development; the Ministry of Investment and Trade and facilitated by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization – UNIDO.
The formation of the inter-ministerial committee followed a special session of the National Economic Management Team during which the Vice President – Prof. Yemi Osinbajo mandated that a meeting of all Ministries, Departments & MDAs concerned with produce export, be held to develop strategies to address the high rate of rejection of Nigerian commodities and non-oil exports in the international markets, particularly in the European Union.
The Committee’s membership was drawn from relevant departments and MDAs of the Ministries of Agriculture and Rural Development; Trade and Investment; Health; Finance and Transport.
Speaking at the inauguration of the “Zero Reject” Committee and Workshop in Abuja, Hon. Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development – Chief Audu Ogbeh stated: “We must recognise and respect universal standards to stop the continued embarrassment caused by the rejection of our export produce. When the European Union bans our produce, it is not that they hate us; it is out of concern for our health. After all, it is Nigerians abroad who consume most of the exported local food. I urge you all to carry out your assignments with dedication and leave no room for sentiments. Ensure that the standards are met”.
The objectives of the “Zero Reject” workshop among others was to develop an implementable Action-Plan with clear Terms of Reference; define the roles of the respective MDAs and Stakeholders in the value chain, as identified in the working documents of the committee; and supporting FMARD and FMITI to design a plan and response document towards solving the trade, produce and commodities issues on product rejection.
At the end of the 3-Day workshop which featured breakout sessions on the validation of the harmonized produce “Zero Reject” work plan, a 5-year National Quality Policy and Plan for Nigeria was developed in line with the West Africa Common Industrial Policy and global best practices.
The National Quality Policy seeks to achieve a sustainable socio-economic growth, in the next five years by developing, establishing, implementing and maintaining a National Quality Infrastructure that will meet the needs of the nation and global competitiveness.