NIGERIA – The Director-General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Prof Moji Adeyeye has run down the constant rejection of food and agricultural commodities from Nigeria by the United States of America (USA) and the European Union (EU) member countries over what she described as poor quality.

In a press statement on Quality and Safety of Export Food Trade, she noted that the international market is competitive in nature and only welcomes products of high quality with relevant certifications and quality packaging that is environmentally friendly, to trade globally, stressing that the problem of quality, standard, certification, and appropriate packaging for made-in-Nigeria products destined for export has been an issue in the international market and there is a need to address the issue of rejections.

Adeyeye, urged all the regulatory agencies at the port lumbered with the obligation of guaranteeing high quality of imports and exports, to find urgent and lasting solutions to Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) Border Rejection Notifications from the European Commission on products originating from Nigeria.

Based on the RASFF alert received from the EU, she said NAFDAC had sensitized food processors, handlers and exporters through training programmes, workshops and seminars on current Food Safety Management requirements such as, Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP), Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP), Good Hygiene Practices (GHP), Risk Analysis to ensure that products are safe and of good quality, to gain consumers’ confidence and acceptability in Nigeria and international export markets.

She lamented the ensuing bad image the recurrent rejection of commodities from Nigeria by the EU has caused the country.

She expressed concern over the volume of food and agricultural commodities from Nigeria that is currently facing challenges at entry points in some countries in Europe and the US where they have been repeatedly rejected.

“NAFDAC is designated as World Trade Organization/Sanitary and Phytosanitary Enquiry Point in Nigeria on Food Safety to facilitate international trade, and respond to enquiries on safety standards, regulations, and guidelines on food trade in Nigeria,” she said.

Nigeria’s products meant for the export market are faced with the presence of contaminants such as pesticide residues, notoriously dichlorvos, an organophosphate widely used as an insecticide, and other impurities, exceeding maximum permitted level and some with inadequate packaging and labelling which have caused a lot of products’ rejections in the global market.

As reported by Vanguard, the NAFDAC boss disclosed that the Agency has over the years intervened to assist Nigerian exporters to meet with international regulations thereby creating employment and earning foreign exchange for Nigeria.

Through this intervention by NAFDAC, it was agreed that these products be subjected to 100 per cent pre-export testing and issuance of Health Certificate to products with satisfactory limits before further verification by the EU at their border control points.

Further the director divulged that her Agency had analyzed the RASF alert  and observed that most rejected products by the EU were smuggled out and not certified by NAFDAC nor the Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Services at the ports, adding that this calls for proper collaboration and synergy amongst all agencies of government to curb the indecent behavior of some exporters and ensure only quality and certified products are exported.

‘’We need to close gaps and work together to prevent regulatory gaps being exploited by the unscrupulous traders and their collaborators. There must be convergence for all regulatory activities especially at the Ports of Exit as a starting point before we begin cleaning up and capacitating the honest operators and traders within the country,’’ she concluded.