The “Zero Reject” Initiative
The key objective of the Quality Control and Standardization mandate of the present administration tagged “Zero Reject” is to entrench best practises in the food handling chain and linking stakeholders and farmers for quality consumption, export drive and for Agricultural Development Action Plan.
Since the advent of the present administration under the leadership of Honourable Minster, Chief Audu Ogbeh, we have recorded some outstanding milestones which are highlighted below:
- The “Culture of Quality” and Global G.A.P. (certification process) in the Nigeria agro sector is ongoing through:
- The establishment of a standing inter-ministerial technical committee on zero reject of agricultural produce and non-oil-exports in Nigeria, co-chaired by Ministers of Agriculture and Trade….with MDAs / Regulatory agencies as members and with technical support by UNIDO
- Establishment of Nigerian Agricultural Export Control Plan as recommended by the EU, with HS codes for goods and manufactured items, and as strategy to lift the present ban on Nigerian dried beans and prevent ban on other agricultural produce.
- HMA Recommendation of the Export Control plan to Ministry of Trade/EU for inclusion into the Trade/EU Country programme for Nigeria. (By so doing, the plan is secured for the next five years (2018-2023)
- Nationwide advocacy on agricultural quality control & standardization, which has prompted establishment of the units in some ministries of agriculture across board.
- Validation of Conduits of Excellence in the Agro Sector.
- Establishment of National Quality Awards to encourage producers, processors and marketters of Agro produce and manufacturers, inclusive, in line with ECOWAS recommendation in Addis Ababa.
- Zero Reject Initiative changing mind-set of farmers and extension workers on indiscriminate use of chemicals
- The Ban on Yam Export Bill is undergoing a repeal process and has already passed 2nd reading in the National Assembly.
- The Seed Sector is witnessing a quality assurance revolution.
- Post-harvest loss management and value addition enhanced through agro partner intervention.
- To achieve standardization in commodity weight, we have introduced the use of standard weight & measures amongst marketers.
- High-level interventions in the standardization of agro produce for export have been recorded in the following areas:
- Dedication of Ikorodu Terminal and Lilypond (Lagos) for export of agro produce and cold-chain facilities.
- Introduction of standard Mudus and Weight & Measures for marketing uniformity across board and use of market marshals to ensure enforcement—very active now in some states of the federation.
- Quality Control & Standardization Project listed as one of the priorities of Economic Growth and Recovery Plan (EGRP).
- Expression of interest by the African Export-Import (Afrexim) Bank to support the establishment of Agricultural Internationally Accredited Inspection and Certification Centres in Nigeria, within the context of their titled “IMPACT 2021, Africa Transformed” and with the aim of ensuring compliance with applicable international standards. Pilot state is Ogun State, for South-West and Enugu for South East.
- Collaboration on-going with the FAO for strategic intervention in the conduct of baseline survey, dovetailing into publication on Agro Produce, its standards and importing countries. The publication will serve as ease of reference for farmers (G.A.P), processors and marketers.