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Traffic, security agencies bane of agro products export standards—NAQS boss

Real reasons behind the rejection and banning of Nigeria’s agro products by the European Union (EU) and other countries of the world have been revealed by the leadership of the Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS).

In an interview, the Coordinating Director of NAQS, Dr. Vincent Isegbe said stoppages and delays of trucks carrying export bound products on the highway to the ports by security agencies cause massive spoliation of agro products.

He added that because of the development, farmers then decided to over preserve their products with dangerous chemicals which resulted in the rejection by the EU and other countries.

It would be recalled that the EU banned Nigerian beans since last year due to over preservative and use of harmful substances they discovered during tests.

Efforts of the federal government to persuade the EU to unban the product had continued to fail because farmers had continued use the same dangerous chemicals.

Isegbe decried the delays on the highways caused by traffic agencies and other road management bodies as the main problem militating against timely exportation of agro products in Nigeria.

He said “When we finish all our certification and we package agro products and there is a delay of flight or seaport, it will affect the quality of our products”.

“So the airline operators need to know that since they are carrying perishable items, it is important for them to maintain by all means their flight schedule. If they have any issues, they should let us know early enough.

“We are also talking to the police, Customs, Road Safety, National Union of Road Transporters so that when they see fresh agricultural produce leaving the hinter lands to the point of export, they should minimally delay it so that it can get to where we can examine them fresh. For example, maybe the papers of the vehicle carrying agricultural produce expired, what we see is that the whole consignment is been delayed.

“What we are saying is that the driver can be allowed to drop the consignment while he comes back to answer why he s breaking the traffic rules. Those are the things we want to draw the attention of the federal government to which invariably affects our certification.

On the growing complaints from quarantine officials at the ports that Customs officers don’t invite them for examination of export produce, Isegbe there are some few government regulations that have been put in place since 2011 which the Minister of Agric has drawn the attention of the Federal Ministry of Finance to and they are working on it.

“The former government circular said that they need to invite us before we inspect. But we are saying that if you do that you are creating a gap.

“Suppose you are invited late or you are not invited at all and the commodities exit Nigeria, they will now report to quarantine that we are not doing our job. So there is need for us to create that harmony. Of course, there is a reason for government to send out so many agencies at the port but we are too critical to the survival of our agro export for government not to review the situation.

“The issue has come up at the highest level and we hope that soon the matter will be resolved. We are stationed at the port but Customs only invite us to come in and in some places, they don’t even allow us to go in.  So it is important that government looks into this to ensure that we are at the right place so that any agricultural consignment going out, we are there to inspect them. If we are not there, then there is nothing we can do but when there is an issue, quarantine is the first to be called”, Isegbe added.

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