Federal Government has reaffirmed its commitment to Agro Zero Reject Initiatives stating that it would ensure best Practices in Food Handling Chain, Robust linkage among Stakeholders and Drive Export in the Agricultural Sector.

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development stated this during the briefing by the Standing Inter- Ministerial Technical Committee (SIMTC) in his office, in Abuja, recently.

Dr. Abubakar said that the Ministry was committed to promoting Agro Zero Reject Initiative with a view to bringing all relevant actors together for seamless export business in accordance with Global Practice.

He revealed that the report of experts that evaluated the Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary (SPS) bodies like National Agricultural Quarantine Services (NAQS) had clearly pointed out the gaps in the inspection and food safety protocols, urging all these agencies to work earnestly with the National Accreditation Services (NINAS) to fill the gaps in the evaluation conducted by the experts.

In his opening remarks, the Director, Federal Department of Agriculture, Engr. Abubakar Garba represented by Mr. Benard Ukattah, he recalled that in 2015, the European Union (EU) banned the importation of Nigerian beans due to high content of pesticide residues considered harmful to health.

Eng. Abubakar further revealed that few private companies had agreed to key into the implementation of the Pilot Action Plan that would get the ban lifted and pave way for admitting Nigerian product for export.

In his presentation, Titled Integrated Export Control Plan (IECP), a Consultant to the Committee, Dr. Simeon Umukoro stated that Nigeria Authorities were expected to submit a detailed action plan with Information on reasons / origin of the pesticide residues, information on growers and their training /certification among others.

Dr. Umukoro added that an export control plan would be put in place with a view to ensure farmers are trained to Good Agricultural Practices, Relevant Codex Alimentarius standards are applied, and exported consignments are traceable to certified farmers among others.

It would be recalled that the Federal Government set up a committee to produce a working document towards taking the country out of the shackles of export ban.

Mohammed Abdullahi Gana
Information officer II
For: Director, Information (FMARD)