NIGERIA – In a move to confront the alarming rate of rejected food exports from Nigeria, the National Agency for Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has announced a series of comprehensive regulatory interventions.

Earlier this year, NAFDAC disclosed that over 70% of food exports from Nigeria were being rejected abroad, signaling a deep-seated problem in the country’s export processes.

One of the pivotal measures unveiled by NAFDAC is the immediate implementation of stringent standards.

This includes the incorporation and enforcement of NAFDAC Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP), Good Hygienic Practices (GHP), and Laboratory Testing, covering mycotoxin, pesticide residue, and heavy metals certification for all regulated products.

This mandate encompasses a wide array of products, spanning food, drugs, and more, as outlined by the National Export Supervision Scheme (NESS) administered by the Federal Government’s appointed Pre-shipment Inspection Agents (PIAs).

To prevent further economic losses resulting from non-compliant exports, NAFDAC has issued an urgent call to all Nigerian exporters dealing in NAFDAC-regulated products.

They are urged to obtain the necessary certifications promptly to avoid the rejection of their products by international trading partners, a situation that has inflicted significant financial setbacks on the nation.

Prof Mojisola Adeyeye, the Director General of NAFDAC, underscored the urgency of the situation during a recent briefing with journalists.

She revealed that NAFDAC’s recent engagement with the UK Food Standard Agency (FSA) in London was part of ongoing efforts to address the issue.

Besides stringent certification requirements, NAFDAC has been included in the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Export Proceed (NXP) form processing, an initiative aimed at streamlining export procedures.

Additionally, there are plans to bolster in-country regulatory infrastructures related to exports, among various other measures.

Adeyeye emphasized that the root cause of the problem lies in non-compliance with advisory guidelines set by NAFDAC.

Many exported food products are processed without undergoing the mandatory testing procedures mandated by NAFDAC. Consequently, the rejection rate for these uninspected items comes as no surprise, she noted.

This alarming trend had previously caught the attention of CropLife Nigeria, an international organization dedicated to advancing crop protection and plant biotechnology.

In collaboration with NAFDAC, the organization initiated training sessions for agrochemical dealers, focusing on safe handling practices for pesticides during planting and post-harvesting periods.

David Achimugu, President of CropLife Nigeria, highlighted the lack of knowledge regarding the responsible use of pesticides and other crop protection agents as a significant factor contributing to Nigeria’s agricultural exports being turned away abroad.

As NAFDAC takes these decisive steps towards reform, it remains to be seen how these interventions will reshape Nigeria’s export landscape, ensuring that products leaving its shores meet international standards and gain acceptance in global markets.

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