A Food Agriculture Organisation (FAO) consultant, Prof. Funso Sonaiya, has called for concerted efforts to stem the rejection of the country’s agricultural produce abroad.
Speaking with The Nation, Sonaiya stressed the need for improved post-harvest handling and packaging to meet standards set for export to regional and international markets.
He explained that European Union (EU) expects countries wishing to export to the region to set up a similar system of food safety controls to ensure that European consumers have the same level of confidence in the safety of imported food products as they do with those from the EU.
He said the measures must protect exports from diseases, pests, or contaminants.
This is to ensure that importing countries can rely on Nigeria’s food safety system and that food imported from here is safe, the dons said.
Sonaiya said the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) has set standards, which farmers must follow to avoid rejection if they are to tap into wider markets.
Besides experts, such as the Executive Secretary/CEO, Institute of Export Operations and Management, (IEOM) Mr. Ofon Udofia, are canvassing investment in laboratories; sensitisation of farmers on good practices of production and post-harvest handling using extension services.
They also said the high post-harvest losses, damage, bruising, rotting and lack of cold storage need strategic intervention by supporting fruit processing and encouraging cottage fruits and vegetables processors.
Some Nigerians have lost alot of money to failure of food to meet to EU requirements. EU has some of the most comprehensive food safety standards in the world, and a well-established system of controls to make sure that those standards are met.
Stakeholders believe clear policies that advance food safety, good production practices, strict hygienic and farming environment control, and regulations for proper animal medicinal drug use, science-based animal care and well-being practices that are consistent with globally recognised standards and best practices can help open the doors in the international markets.
SOURCE: THE NATION