The Federal Government has urged all actors in the agricultural sector to be abreast of the standards and conventions for food and agricultural products.
Dr Mohammed Umar, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, gave the advice in Abuja
Umar said adequate knowledge of regulations and standards was key to reducing the incidence of rejection of the country’s products at the international market.
This, he said, is important as the country is now leaning towards exportation following the “noticeable increasing growth in agricultural and food production in the country”.
The permanent secretary made the remarks at the Agriproduce Exportation Summit organised by the Agricultural and Rural Management Institute (ARMTI) Ilorin.
Umar, who represented the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, said the ministry was addressing the issue of rejection through its Quality Control and Standardisation mandate.
He said this was to ensure best practices in the food handling chain and linking stakeholders and farmers to quality consumption, export drive and for the Agricultural Development Action Plan.
“A major emphasis has been on stimulating the export of these produce towards increasing our foreign exchange earnings.
“In doing this, we are giving attention to meeting the taste and preferences of not only the local but also international consumers in our production choices.
“Government regulations and policies that are well informed, beneficial and backed with relevant research being put in place to execute the mandate professionally,” he said.
Dr Olufemi Oladunmi, the Executive Director of ARMTI, said that agriproduce exportation holds a lot of potential that needs to unlocked in the country.
According to him, the agricultural export opportunities are huge and accessible to all players, including smallholder farmers.
He, however, stated that there are challenges limiting stakeholders especially the smallholders and rural agroproducers from exploiting these potentials.
Some of these challenges according to him include, understanding the processes and procedures to export and raising sufficient funds.
“What we seek to do during this summit is to develop a framework which can be rolled out and implemented within any part of the agricultural sector to encourage smallholder farmers into agro exportation.
“This framework will be such that every state, local government and individual groups can key in and activate this model to position themselves to turn out export-ready products, ” he said.
The Executive Director added that the agency hoped to carry out this summit across the six geo-political zones of the country in order to keep preaching this gospel for farmers to hear.
On his part, Dr Solomon Sunday, a Commodity Certification Officer in the Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS) appealed to intended exporters to seek guidelines from the service before export.
He said this would help to avoid rejection of the country’s agricultural commodities, adding that for agricultural produce to meet international standards, farmers needed to get it right from the farm.
The three-day summit with the theme, “Smallholders and Rural Agro Producers’ Inclusive in Exportation”, brought together stakeholders on safe agricultural commodities for exportation.