By; AMOS TAUNA, Kaduna
Significant steps have been taken by the Nigerian Agribusiness Group (NABG) and major stakeholders in the agriculture sub sector to adopt standards for Nigeria’s agricultural commodities in order to ensure that the quality of products meet the standard of the global market.
In a one-day stakeholder’s consultative workshop tagged “Unlocking Our Agri-Commodity Market, Setting the Appropriate Value for Nigeria’s Agri-Produce Exports” held in Abuja, powered by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to support Nigeria’s Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) with capacity and technical competence to produce safe food and to also make their products more competitive globally.
Dr. Manzo Maigari, the Director General of MABG, while speaking to newsmen explained that it is aimed at “Developing a National Agricultural Commodity Standards Grading System and National Policy to Support Commodity Grading System”.
According to him, Nigeria lags behind as its Agri-commodities have not been competitive in the global market despite the huge potential in the country, stressing that the necessity to build standards, following the persistent rejection of Nigerian products in the global market because they don’t meet specifications.
He stated, “In modern business and trade, people want to be sure of the quality of goods you produce, the sanitation, and the hygiene of what you are selling. If we want to play in the global scene then we must comply with the global best practices and align ourselves to global benchmarks and standards.
“This is something that does not exist currently in Nigeria and therefore as custodians of agribusiness in Nigeria, we have taken the initiative to bring stakeholders together both in the public and private sector, so that we can craft a policy that will enable Nigeria compete favorably in Africa and across the world.”
Francis Anatogu, the Executive Secretary Nigeria’s National Action Committee on African Continental Free Trade Agreement (ACFTA) explained that the policy framework would help to focus on what the nation needs to do to make sure that the objective is achieved.
He also emphasized that the institutions or entities that will implement the policy should be backed by law to make it sustainable.
Stella Oraka, the CEO of Agribusiness Innovation (AGRICON), noted that the idea is for Nigerians to produce what they eat and sell what they produce, while calling for the empowerment of the Small Medium Enterprises to produce safe food to make it available for the masses and to be able to export the same.
She explained, “The SMEs have been very poor; they have not been able to produce what they even eat, not to talk of exporting. The NABG are trying to ensure that the SMEs are given the opportunity to produce safe food and to export and we are here to support them.”
Mercy Maiyaki of BOP Incorporated said the initiative would play a big role in removing more Nigerians from poverty as many of them will leverage the opportunity.