NIGERIA – The number of queries and rejection cases of exported agricultural produce from Nigeria has been witnessing a steady decline, the Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Agency and farmers have said.

It was gathered that improvement in produce preservation in Nigeria, which reportedly started about a year ago, accounted for the decline in the rejection of agro exports from the country.

According to the Head, Media, Communications and Strategies, NAQS, Dr Chigozie Nwodo, sustained advocacy by agencies of government and various farmers’ associations had also helped to improve the quality of produce.

He said, “We may give you a direct answer that it is the advocacy that we are doing in Kano, Katsina and other hinterlands that has led to the increase in successful produce exports.

But the truth is that preservation has improved and this can be seen in the increased exports of agricultural commodities from Nigeria.

“Also, there has been steady decline in the number of rejection and queries regarding the commodities that we’ve been exporting.

The increase in exports is almost across all commodities in the past one or two years now.

The All Farmers Association of Nigeria also confirmed that more Nigeria’s agro commodities had been exported in the last one year.

Speaking further on some of the things the government was doing to reduce the rejection of agro exports from Nigeria and post-harvest losses, Nwodo noted that prior to now, there had been complaints that agricultural products from Nigeria did not meet international standards

He said, “And because of this we decided to go back to the fields where the processes, cultivation and others start from, beginning from the tilling of the land, planting and weeding.

“In fact we monitor the whole process across the value chain including the haulage, storage and, of course, post-harvest preservation.

We try to guide farmers on the steps to be taken in order to maintain those commodities in a way that they will meet international standards.”

Nwodo said the NAQS had carried out an export certification process in which it broke down the processes required for the export and adequate preservation of different commodities in a way that was understandable by the farmers.

He said, “It enables them to know what to do at every point in time; the kind of pesticides to use; the improved ways to cultivate crops; how to package, store and preserve their produce.”

On how much the measures adopted by the NAQS had actually helped, Nwodo stated that although they did not have actual figures yet,  their efforts had certainly resulted in an increased the volume of agricultural exports from Nigeria.