The Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Services (NAQS) has urged exporters of yam and other agricultural produce to always contact the service to forestall crop rejection in the international market and national embarrassments.
Mr Vincent Isagbe, the Coordinating Director of NAQS, gave the advice in Abuja on Wednesday, while briefing newsmen on Nigeria’s yam export initiative.
Isagbe said that produce exporters who contacted NAQS, prior to their export processes, had always succeeded, adding the measures put in place by the service were stringent but satisfying and rewarding.
“If NAQS is involved in the export process of any agricultural produce, from beginning to the end, the exporters might not encounter issues of crop rejection or spoilage abroad.
“We inspect the yams from selections and give necessary guidelines on where the exporter would keep the yams to guard against worms, nematodes, while the yams must not be kept in wet areas.
“The cooling containers that will carry the yams must be functioning to avoid spoilage.
“ABX World recently exported yams, sweet potatoes, okra to Europe and the produce export was completely carried out under NAQS inspection and certification,’’ he said.
Isagbe said that the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development had duly sensitised farmers and exporters to the need to “look at the bigger picture as Nigerians and to take our destiny in our hands.
“The ministry has constituted an inter-ministerial committee on zero reject of our non-oil exports and all its members are from ministries involved in the quality and standardisation of the country’s products.
“The committee was set up to promote public awareness of the role of standards and certification as a prerequisite for profitable food exports,’’ he said.
The coordinating director said that recent media reports regarding the rejection of some Nigerian yams abroad were false; adding that the yam export initiative was successful, as the little challenges encountered in it were purely logistic.
He said that the Federal Government was very committed to ensuring the success of the initiative because Nigeria, as the largest producer of yams in the world, should have a capacity for yam exports.
“The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Minister, Chief Audu Ogbeh, and the committee have emphasised global best practices, while engaging world-class experts, international organisations and leveraging the strength in indigenous knowledge.
“ They support investments in relevant infrastructure and facilities as well as the revival of the abandoned yam conditioning centres in Ekiti and Nassarawa states and the construction of new ones.
“Nigeria has developed heap-making machine for yams to boost production and encourage the youth to engage in yam cultivation.
“Some of private sector organisations in Lagos State have started the production of value added derivatives like frozen yam chips and yam flour (elubo and poundo).
“We appeal to Nigerians, in the spirit of patriotism, to see the silver lining around the cloud, in the wake of the recent misinformation about yam exports,’’ Isagbe said.