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NAFDAC moves to curb rejections of Nigerian food and other export products abroad

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The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has extended hands of collaboration to critical stakeholders in the nation’s ports with a view to working together to revamp the export trade in the non-oil sector and reduce the rejection of Nigerian products thereby positioning the country in a better state in the Global market.

The Director General of NAFDAC, Mojisola Adeyeye, was represented by Abimbola Adegboye, the Director of the Port Inspection Directorate (PID), who also heads the Office of Trade and International Relations (OTIR), at a consultative meeting with Pre-shipment Inspection Agents on Friday, expressed the Agency’s discomfort with the alarming rate of rejections of food exports from Nigeria.

She pointed out that the meeting was aimed at building effective collaboration with NAFDAC to complement its robust regulatory policies geared toward understanding the NAFDAC export processes, collaboration to safeguard a unified exportation procedure and zero rejects of Nigeria export products.

She expressed dismay that a competent authority on food safety matters with all her acclaimed global accreditation in food safety testing could be totally blanked out in the listed requirements for issuance of a Clean Certificate of Inspection (CCI) by the Pre-shipment Inspection Agents.

No wonder there are high volumes of rejections of products from Nigeria as the NAFDAC-regulated products were not tested nor production processes validated for compliance before export.

Present at the meeting were the top management staff of Neroli Technologies Limited, the agent covering the South-South and South-West zone; Anglia International Services Limited, the agent covering the North-West and North-Central zone and Gojopal Nigeria Limited, the PIA covering the North-East and South-East zone.

They all made commitments to immediate rectification of this lapse on their website and their process and enlightening their client to use the Nigeria Single Window for Trade portal (www.swt.gov.ng) to procure their export certification.

NAFDAC as a Governmental Agency was established by Enabling Act Cap N1 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (LFN) 2004 which empowers the Agency as the competent authority in Nigeria and charged with the responsibility of regulating and controlling the quality of manufactured, importation, exportation, distribution, advertisement, sale, and consumption of food, drug, chemicals, and other regulated products.

Essentially, the NAFDAC mandate is to ensure traded products are of good quality, safe and wholesome.

The Port Inspection Directorate of the Agency has met with the Chairman of the Comprehensive Import Supervision Scheme (CISS) and Nigeria Export Supervision Scheme (NESS), the Area Comptroller of Nigeria Customs Services at the Ports, and advocacy visits were made to export sheds at seaports, airports, and land borders.

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She, however, expressed her appreciation of the activities of PIAs as a main actor in the processes chain of exportation adding that coming together of the critical stakeholders will help make the trade of the non-oil sector to be better, more robust and more consultative.

‘NAFDAC’s door is opened to enhance export and trade, and we encourage and support trade of quality products’, she said, adding that ‘we are enjoining the PIAs to be part of the game and to make sure we collaborate effectively’.

The NAFDAC boss noted that the Agency acknowledges the importance of having broader and deeper interactions and collaborations with sister agencies such as the Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON), Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS), Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) etc.

Prof Adeyeye emphasized the position of export as a major aspect of building every country’s economy because of its importance in international trade and economic stability, therefore the reason for regulation of the sector is to ensure that products that leave a country’s shores are of good quality, safe and meet international best practices among others.

For Nigeria, she said trade is critical to the national economic makeup, adding that in 2021, Nigeria exported $57.7 billion of goods, making it the world’s 52nd most exporting country.

Prof. Adeyeye disclosed that Cocoa beans, sesame seeds, cashew and seven other products top the list of agricultural commodities Nigeria exported within the first nine (9) months of 2022, generating N427.6 billion or $1.02 billion.

The DG reiterated that huge volumes of Nigeria’s exported agricultural commodities were often rejected by the European Union for not meeting required standards, adding that EU countries seized about 82% of Nigeria’s agricultural products exported illegally.

According to her, these products are non-documented items and people move them out without clearance by the relevant regulatory agency.

The DG NAFDAC listed the following as reasons for export rejects: Technical barrier issues, e.g., defective packaging and inadequate labelling. Non-Documentation Unauthorised transition, Illegal importation, En caso de no compliance to destination markets’ standards, the EU will reject consignments containing food that do not comply with EU maximum residue limits (MRLs) for Vet Medicine and Pesticides, and maximum limits (MLs) for Contaminants in food.

Others include exporters’ boycott of relevant regulatory Agencies, e.g., NAFDAC, in the process of exportation, which leads to rejects, private huge losses and the absence of government-to-government communications.

Prof. Adeyeye, however, maintained that tightening the regulatory and inspection regime for exports of food items and agricultural products is one of the ways to address export rejections, adding that all relevant Government Agencies and associations involved in Nigerian exports should ensure agro-products exported are safe, of good quality and meet the specified International Standards.

‘’When all other relevant efforts are merged, we can achieve the reduction of rejects on Nigerian export food commodities and increase foreign exchange earnings’’, she said.

(omayowa@globalfinancialdigest.com; Newsroom: +234 8033 964 138

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