The Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS), says Nigeria must restore conventional export control measures at all ports of entry to optimise its comparative advantage in agricultural commodities and diversify the economy.
Director General, of NAQS, Dr Vincent Isegbe said this in a statement made available on Thursday in Abuja.
Speaking on NAQS efforts towards lifting the EU’s suspension of the import of Nigerian dried beans, lsegbe noted that Nigeria was the largest producer of dried cowpea in the world, describing it as accounting for almost half of the global production.
He, however, noted that Nigeria was not among the top 10 leading exporters of dried cowpea in the world.
Isegbe said: “this sad paradox was essentially due to the absence of proper gate keeping to ensure that commodities passed for export meet pesticide residue standards and other phytosanitary requirements.
According to him, lack of export quality guarantees and the resultant off-and-on pattern of the export traffic of Nigerian dried beans is costing the country 362.5 U.S. dollars in foreign revenue annually.
Isegbe in reference to the weak link in the bean value chain, noted that the ban was occasioned by an export control gap that allowed the shipping of dried beans with pesticide residues higher than the permissible threshold.
According to him, the results of the extensive fieldwork and laboratory analyses done by NAQS, showed that the challenge of high pesticide residue in Nigerian beans was not nested in the farm.
“The bean samples collected from the farms had low pesticide residues –beneath the maximum residue level (MRL) of Nigeria’s trading partners –while bean samples collected from the warehouses had high pesticide residues, above the MRL.
“This wide differential indicates that high pesticide use is traceable to the bulk buyers, aggregators and exporters.
“In an attempt to protect their stock against weevils and other storage pests, these set of actors usually lace their beans with pesticides liberally.
Thereby, raising the pesticide residues in the commodity above the MRL and unwittingly rendering them ineligible for export,” he said.
The director general noted that the NAQS was carrying out an intensive public awareness on the dangers of indiscriminate use of pesticides.
He said the agency’s message on integrated pest management, proper use of pesticides and Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), was breaking through to farmers, offtakers, warehouse owners and exporters in the beans producing belt across the country.
According to him, a shift away from synthetic pesticides to biopesticides and organic agriculture among agricultural value chain players will bring the country closer to the point when Nigeria can dominate the global cowpea market.
He added that such measures would enable the country dominate other markets where the nation “can assert its comparative advantage”.