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Chamber, U.S. consulate task FG on food safety bill passage

The Nigerian-American Chamber of Commerce (NACC) and the U.S. Consulate on Wednesday in Lagos urged Nigeria to address its National Food Safety and Quality Bill 2019.

This, they said, was necessary to stop the rejection of Nigerian agricultural produce in international markets.

Dame Adebola Williams, NACC President, made this known at its March 2022 Breakfast Meeting with the theme: “U.S. Mission’s Agric-Focused Activities in Nigeria.

Williams noted that before the discovery of oil, Nigeria could be described as an agricultural economy as the country was notable globally for its agricultural prowess.

She stated that in spite of efforts from agricultural institutions, the country remained unable to harness its natural endowments for exports.

Williams attributed the development to Nigeria’s inability to grow the right species of produce to meet international standards.

To that effect, the NACC president stressed that now, more than ever was the time to focus on the passage and implementation of the food safety bill to engender quality food planting, harvest, and exports.

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“This would greatly help the country’s agriculture sector as players are better informed about safe food; how to go about it to meet export standards and also help to generate foreign exchange.

“To this, the chamber would continuously engage all departments of the U.S. mission in Nigeria on all trade developments for all our members.

“These interactions are enablers to capacity in different sectors of the economy.

“We will continue to foster a healthy relationship between our chamber and the U.S. mission particularly as this is a fundamental plank of strategic imperatives,’’ she said.

In his remarks, Dr Gerald Smith, Counsellor, Agricultural Affairs, U.S. Consulate, advocated the need for Nigerian agricultural products to adhere to food safety standards to the letter.

Smith said the constraint facing Nigerian products was mainly pesticide residue with the belief that the more residue used, the more protected the product was.

He stated that most countries had their limits to the number of pesticides allowed into their food products to prevent damages to their health.

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He stressed the need to develop the capacity to test pesticide management to ensure that Nigerian crops met exportation standards.

“Aflatoxin is what many countries to which Nigeria is trying to export are running from and it is found in products such as maize, peanuts and cotton seeds among others.

“Reducing the amount of pesticide and having the right amount of pesticide is good, but there is the need to develop the capacity to guide farmers through what is obtainable.

“Cashew and cocoa productions are two main areas and stimulus of agricultural production in Nigeria and this should be focused on.

“There is a management training programme on dairy and beef and cattle value chain in the U.S. with some Nigerians on board because livestock has been identified to impact Nigeria’s agricultural sector.

“Another area of interest and synergy is pineapple juice production for export.

“We will continue to provide adequate information to importers across the region and readily provide support and advocacies for players in the agricultural value chain in Nigeria,’’ Smith said. (NAN)

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