NIGERIA – The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has flagged off a new office complex at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos in a bid to counter the export of substandard products.

The NAFDAC boss, Mojisola Adeyeye, revealed at the office’s commissioning, that more than 70 percent of food exported from Nigeria are rejected abroad causing huge financial losses to the exporters and the country at large.

“Over 70 percent of the products that leave our ports get rejected. Considering the money spent on getting those products out of the country, it is a double loss for both the exporter and the country,” she said.

She did, however, say that if cooperation between NAFDAC and other government agencies at the ports is increased, the incidence of food exports being rejected by other nations may soon become a thing of the past.

Before the commodities are even packaged, according to Adeyeye and the port agencies, NAFDAC will make sure they are of the necessary quality and comply with the legal standards of the importing nations.

Adeyeye added the mandate to safeguard the health of the populace and the quality of imports into a nation like Nigeria – which is “overwhelmingly dependent” on importation – cannot be actualized “without the effective presence of NAFDAC at the ports and land borders.”

The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and the police were praised by the Director-General for their symbiotic working relationship.

“Without customs, we will not be able to do a lot of what we have been able to do,” Adeyeye said.

She added that NAFDAC would be limited in its ability to conduct investigations and enforce laws without the help of the police.

“We have over 80 policemen with us in NAFDAC. They help us a lot when we are doing raids or investigations as the case may be,” she said.

Despite NADAC’s efforts to crack down on the importation of harmful chemicals into the country, a study conducted by ICIR indicated that several toxic pesticides banned in Europe were still being used in Nigeria.

According to the research, Nigeria imports more pesticides than all of Southern Africa (87,403 tonnes) and all of North Africa (109,561 tonnes) combined (147,446 tonnes).

The paper also pointed out that despite rising imports, the country’s agricultural production is mostly unrecorded, making it challenging to track pesticide usage.

“Surveys have shown that 80 percent of the pesticides used most frequently by small-scale farmers are highly hazardous pesticides. Among the most commonly used are atrazine, chlorpyrifos, and mancozeb – all of which are prohibited in the European Union,” the report said, adding that 58 percent of the existing pesticides in the country are already banned in Europe.

NAFDAC also recently opened a new office complex in Abeokuta, Ogun State.

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