The Director-General, Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS), Dr Vincent Isegbe has said Nigeria must restore conventional export control measures at all ports of entry to optimize its comparative advantage in agricultural commodities and diversify the economy.
Dr. Isegbe made this known at the weekend in Abuja at the inauguration of the members of the standing committee on Agro Zero Initiative.
While speaking on the status of NAQS efforts towards lifting the EU’s suspension of the import of Nigerian dried beans, NAQS DG said that Nigeria was the largest producer of dried cowpea in the world, accounting for almost half of the global production.
He noted, however, that Nigeria was not among the top 10 leading exporters of dried cowpea in the world. He pointed out that this sad paradox was essentially due to the absence of proper gatekeeping to ensure that commodities passed for export meet pesticide residue standards and other phytosanitary requirements.
He explained that lack of export quality guarantees and the resultant off-and on pattern of the export traffic of Nigerian dried beans was costing the country $362.5m in foreign revenue annually.
Speaking on the weak link in the bean value chain, Dr. Isegbe said that the ban was occasioned by an export control gap which allowed the shipping of dried beans with pesticide residues higher than the permissible threshold.
He mentioned that the results of the extensive fieldwork and laboratory analyses done by NAQS showed that the challenge of high pesticide residue in Nigerian beans was not nested in the farm. He reported that the bean samples collected from the farms had low pesticide residues –beneath the maximum residue level (MRL) of Nigeria’s trading partners –while bean samples collected from the warehouses had high pesticide residues, above the MRL.