According to reports, the National Agency for Food And Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has advised Nigerian exporters to stop embarrassing the country by obtaining the agency’s certification of products.
The Spokesman of NAFDAC, Dr Abubakar Jimoh, gave the advice while fielding questions from NAN on Monday in Abuja on the rejection of about 25 Nigerian produce by the European Union (EU) between 2015 and 2016.
Jimoh explained that the EU had rejected the 25 exported food products from Nigeria for lack of standard.
Some of the food products on the EU rejection list from Nigeria include beans, sesame seeds, melon seeds, dried fish and meat, peanut chips and palm oil, among others.
He therefore urged exporters to subject their products to NAFDAC’s standard and internationally accredited laboratories for proper certification.
He said that the screening and certification of any product for export by NAFDAC was free of charge in spite of facilities, personnel and chemical reagents being used to conduct such tests.
“The Federal Government is doing this as a deliberate policy to encourage our exporters and to satisfy international standards for exports.
“We are now appealing to our exporters not to run away from product certification of NAFDAC, it is free and we don’t charge anything for such service.
“We have adequate personnel and equipment to carry out such responsibility in the country,’’ Jimoh said.
The spokesman lamented that the action of exporters has put the country’s image in bad light and also cause a huge loss to the exporters themselves which had implication to the economy of the country.
According to him, NAFDAC had six functional laboratories that conduct various types of products test across the country.
He also decried exporters’ penchant for bypassing NAFDAC and smuggling of their products at the detriment of the country’s economy and their income.
Jimoh said that the agency had two functional laboratories in Lagos, one each in Kaduna, Agolo in Anambra, Maiduguri and Port Hacourt, while the one in Calabar had not been completed.
He disclosed plans to establish another laboratory in Benue to serve exporters in the North Central part of the country.
Jimoh, who is also the NAFDAC Director Special Duty, noted that the laboratory in Lagos had been accredited internationally and any product that gets approval from such lab would be recognised globally.
He confirmed that the EU had certified the laboratory in Lagos and considered it as meeting the world standard.
He disclosed that Kaduna laboratory was inherited by NAFDAC from the Federal Ministry of Health and later gutted by fire, but that the agency had built a new lab.
The spokesman added that the Kaduna laboratory was built to serve all agricultural farm produce coming from the north for screening and certification and exportation.
He added that the laboratory has required facilities and equipment and was now awaiting international accreditation.
According to him, Agolo, a regional laboratory built by NAFDAC and inaugurated sometime in 2010 by former president Goodluck Jonathan, also has the capacity to serve exporters from the South East region.
“The EU team that visited our lab in Lagos about a year and half ago were happy with what they met on ground.
“We have two laboratories in Lagos, the one in Oshodi deals with food products, micro toxic, High Liquid Performance Chromatography and pesticide residues, while the one in Yaba deals mainly on drugs.
“Laboratory is capital intensive and we cannot have it in every state; therefore those we have now serve states close to them.
“We have the capacity and we are well prepared to ensure all our exported products from the country get NAFDAC’s clean bill of health as an agency charged with responsibility of quality control,” he said.
Jimoh also urged the Nigerian Customs Service to continue to cooperate with NAFDAC in ensuring that such products were not smuggled out of the country.
Meanwhile, the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) in Kano State says it will convene a meeting with producers of agricultural products affected by the EU rejection policy to reverse the development.
The state AFAN Secretary, Alhaji Garba Bichi, told Newsmen in Kano that the meeting would draw all stakeholders from across the state in order to find a lasting solution to the problem.
“We have decided to convene a meeting with all those affected by the EU rejection on some agricultural products in order to address the issue.
“The rejection is as a result of the failure of producers to meet standards due to incorrect application of pesticides and other agrochemical substances.
“So we feel it is necessary to meet with affected farmers and other stakeholders to find a way out,” Bichi said.
He assured that even though some of the affected products were not produced in the state, but the association would meet with the affected producers with a view to taking a collective decision on the issue.
The scribe said the meeting was expected to come up with useful recommendations for immediate implementation and if possible seek technical advices from experts.
An official of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) in the Kano State told NAN on condition of anonymity that the council last year trained some farmers of a particular product, following the development.
The official, who, works at the Enquiry Desk, said the training which was held in Kaduna, was conducted on melon and ginger where farmers were given technical advices on how to add value to their products and ease acceptability in the international markets.