January 29, 2023

Maritime Today Online

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Nigeria loses $362.5m cowpea export revenue annually, says NAQS

Nigeria is said to be losing $362.5 million dollars annually in export revenue due to the irregular pattern of cowpea export traffic despite being the largest producer of dried cowpeas, accounting for 46 percent of global yield and 48 percent of African output.

Nigeria is also not among the top 10 exporters of cowpeas.

Director General, Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS), Dr. Vincent Isegbe, who revealed this in a document made available to MARITIMETODAY ONLINE, titled the EU Ban on Nigerian Dried Beans, said Nigeria is in pole position to dominate the global cowpea market but has remained a fringe and sometimes absent player due to persisting export control issues.

Isegbe who expressed concern over the ban on Nigerian dried beans by the European Union over the past five years, however said the agency is making every effort towards lifting the ban.

He identified poor agricultural practice occasioned by the indiscriminate and unapproved use of agro-pesticides by the operators of the various produce; the control of agro- pesticides still residing with NAFDAC instead of Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, thereby inhibiting a direct link with the end- users; absence of export control measures put in place as required in the EU regulation; and sensitization on the proper utilization of agro- pesticides to reduce cases of misapplication  as some of the gaps in export control that require immediate attention.

“In recent times, several meetings have been held with relevant authorities to address these issue and to provide solutions to this problem as it is mandatory for NAQS to give every importer or consumer of our agro- produce the public health comfort that the produce is safe and not injurious to human and animal health, from the farm level to the food table and eventually the quarantine export certificate desk,” he said.

Highlighting some efforts made to address the problem, the NAQS boss said the agency has been creating awareness on the dangers of the use of prohibited pesticides on agricultural commodities, sampling beans nationwide at farm level, market and wholesale store in order to determine the level of pesticide residue in stored beans.

Other efforts according to him include provision of free samples of the less toxic agro- pesticides for analysis while working on alternative bio-degradable agro- pesticides using pilot states of Kano, Oyo and Benue and development of Beans Export Certification Value Chain (ECVC) with the Cowpea/ Beans associations on how best to safeguard the beans value chain.

He noted that the result of the analysis revealed high pesticide residues in dried beans sampled from warehouses while dried beans from farms and open markets revealed low pesticide residues in them.

On the way forward,  Isegbe urged the government to institute effective export control measures as required in the EU regulation and designate NAQS as the agency to be responsible for inspecting and certifying agro products at the seaports and airports.

Recall that the EU had in 2015 banned the importation of Nigeria’s dried beans on the grounds that the produce contained high level of pesticide considered dangerous to human health.

The EU later extended the ban till 2022 over the country’s failure to implement its food safety action plan submitted to the Commission since 2018.