By Edwin Nwanojuo
The Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS) has stated that Nigeria charges one of the lowest fees for the inspection and certification of agricultural produce for export on the continent.
The Agency disclosed this while reacting to a newspaper report wherein some unknown group was quoted as claiming that the Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS) charged the outrageous fee of N5000 per kilogram of agricultural produce packaged for export. This exorbitant rate supposedly deters Nigerian exporters and drives them to take their cargoes to a neighboring country for export.
Responding on behalf of the Agency, the Head, Media, Communication and Strategies, NAQS, said that the claim is transparently false and beggars belief:
“The truth is that nobody who is conversant with the valid terms for the export of agricultural commodities would take it with a pinch of salt. The reporter would have saved herself the embarrassment of serving as an unwitting purveyor of fake news if she had conducted an independent fact-check or contacted the Agency to seek the other side of the story as required by the norm of balance, which is one of the fundamental tenets of journalism.’’
Dr. Nwodo remarked that all User Fees chargeable by the Agency in connection with the export of plant, animal and aquatic items are clearly listed on the NAQS website. The comprehensive lists of the fees were first published in 2017 and they have remained accessible till date. In addition, the fees were integrated into the text of the Agency’s Service Level Agreement, for the sake of emphasis.
These are public documents and their links are as follows:
He affirmed that ‘’NAQS does not demand or exact charges outside the approved fees under any circumstance. We consider it most uncharitable that the Agency would be accused of levying N5000 per kilogram of agricultural produce when we charge less than that amount for a full 20-feet container!
Dr. Nwodo stressed that NAQS is adamantly pro-business. ‘’The Agency is one of the key drivers of the present administration’s initiative to grow Nigeria’s foreign exchange earnings from non-oil exports. Our solid commitment to encouraging and facilitating agriculture-based export was reflected in the last Presidential Enabling Business Council (PEBEC) report which ranked NAQS as the Second Most Improved MDA and the overall third best in Transparency & Operation Efficiency.’’
He therefore urged members of the public to discountenance the untruth that NAQS charges unreasonably high fees. He said that, contrary to the report, NAQS user fees charged by Nigeria for the inspection and certification of agricultural items are actually one of the lowest on the continent.
He also advised exporters and agents to consult the Agency’s website to ascertain the applicable rates, when in doubt.