Nigeria?s food exports face standards issues


About 15 percent of food and agro products leaving Nigeria and West Africa are rejected at the borders of Europe, America and Asia, as they do not conform to stipulated global standards, experts have said.

According to these experts, persistent export of products that fall short of stipulated standards do not bode well for Nigerian entrepreneurs as rejection of such commodities is costly to the exporters and mars the country?s quest for diversifying away from oil.

Bruno Doko, standardisation and quality promotion expert, United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), said from 2008, the global censorship of standards had been more stringent, stressing that passing compliance tests required capacity building at various stages.

?To pass compliance, you need capacity building to train your people, to bring your equipment up to standards and to get your laboratories accredited,? Doko said in Minna, Niger State, at a four-day media professionals workshop on the concept of quality in Nigeria on Tuesday.

Speaking on the topic, ?Tools to Support Economic Growth, Innovation and Competitiveness,? Doko said the government could utilise technical regulations to control the quality of products and to protect citizens from harmful market practices and failures, saying that standards had the capacity to boost innovation, contribute to economic growth and spike business sectors.

Nigeria?s non-oil exports are having a hard time in the international market. Recently, Europe banned Nigerian beans from coming into its markets. The European Food Safety Authority said the rejected beans were found to contain between 0.03mg per kilogramme to 4.6mg/kg of dichlorvos pesticide, though the acceptable maximum residue limit was 0.01mg/kg.

UNIDO is currently providing technical assistance for the National Quality Infrastructure (NQI) funded by the European Union, GIZ, UK Department for International Trade. The essence of this project is to raise the standards of Nigerian commodities in local, regional and international markets, while also protecting the consumers.

Charles Malata, technical supervisor, NQI, said good quality was an essential element for products traded in local, regional or international markets, saying that one of the objectives of the project was to strengthen the capacity of the trade support institutions for trade policy and customers reforms.

?If we are to participate in global trade, we cannot ignore standards and international arrangements. In any economy, you cannot afford to trade only among yourself,? Malata said.

?UNIDO supports countries on building their infrastructure and to enhance standardisation, quality and accreditation. Enhancing the capacity of developing countries and countries with economies in transition to participate in global trade is becoming increasingly critical for the economic growth of these countries,? he said.

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