Keynote Address by the
Honourable Minister of Agriculture & Rural Development, Alhaji Muhammad Sabo Nanono, at the Inauguration/Workshop of the Standing Inter-Ministerial Technical Committee on Zero Reject of Agricultural Commodities and Produce/Non-Oil Exports,
Reiz Intercontinental Hotel, Abuja
18th February, 2021
- It is with delight that I welcome you all today to this important gathering, to channel a roadmap for a subject of national importance, i.e, inauguration of the Standing Inter-Ministerial Technical Committee on Zero Reject of Agricultural Commodities and Produce/Non-Oil Exports. We are here to take our destinies in our hands by putting in our collective efforts to find lasting solution to incessant rejection of our agricultural commodities, especially in Europe. I, therefore, appreciate you all the stakeholders for making out time, and also congratulate all the nominees to this high-level technical committee that would serve as think tank for the Government to meaningfully resolve this challenge.
- We should avoid the embarrassment of rejects in the future, and strengthen our regulatory / inspection authorities to ensure that they live up to their mandates. Our desire for standard agricultural products and non-oil exports means there will be vigorous pursuit of investment in quality control and standardization. In pursuance of this, my Ministry, in collaboration with relevant stakeholders, is committed not only to food security but wholesome foods of high quality acceptable for local consumption and export.
- The Agriculture Policy Roadmap speaks directly to the fact that Agriculture remains a major option to diversifying the nation’s economy, but it has been relegated to the background due to years of neglect. Therefore, this Administration is committed to harnessing the natural resources that God has so richly endowed us with to feed ourselves in the region, and indeed, the world at large. However, this cannot be achieved if what we are producing as a nation cannot meet international food certification standards. This is a source of concern to rightful thinking Nigerians, particularly the MDAs that are charged with the responsibility of producing and certifying our produce for export in order to find a lasting solution to this menace. Do not also forget that whatever is being rejected elsewhere could be what we are consuming locally, therefore putting our own health into jeopardy, by not paying attention to quality assurance. The areas of handling our fresh produce, cold storage and post-harvest loss management are also of major concern if we must improve on our exports.
- In this regard, it then becomes necessary to ensure that our production, comprising our commodities with comparative advantages / export potentials and emerging ones, is demand-driven and targeted towards meeting the food safety standards of our intending markets with the assistance of experts in the sector, including the organized private sector, our development partners, our extension workers and the media. Our fisheries and aquaculture systems urgently need to enforce standards that would accord global credibility and our animal products should be acceptable anywhere. The Federal Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Development, under my leadership and as a matter of urgency, is embarking on an ambitious program of quality dairy production, using both the local breeds as well as cross breeding with foreign breeds to increase their hybrid vigor. The Federal Ministries of Industry, Trade & Investment; Transport, Information and the Nigeria Customs Services will continue to play significant roles in area of this Zero Reject Initiative. Distinguished participants, this is the task you have all been brought here to achieve. In carrying out this assignment, you should know that none of you is stronger than all of you. It is therefore pertinent that we work together as a team to achieve the common goal of this national assignment.
- It is worrisome that up till now, our dried beans are still under ban by the EU, at the same time, I must thank the European Union, for the readiness to guiding us through, on the requirements for lifting the ban, one of which is the need for Nigeria to establish a robust “integrated export control plan”. In the same vein, I thank the relevant donor agencies for their continued support in this regard. We sincerely appreciate your commitment in ensuring that Nigeria comes out of this wood of commodity rejection. I call on our donor Agencies to consider other gaps that could be filled to bring Nigeria Agriculture to its place of pride, especially as Nigeria serves actively on the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCTA).
- Ladies and Gentlemen, while I congratulate you for being part of this national assignment, I urge you to give nothing but the best it deserves, as members of the Zero Reject Committee.
- It is therefore, with utmost pleasure that I inaugurate members of the “Standing Inter-Ministerial Technical Committee on Zero Reject of Agricultural Commodities & Produce / Non-oil Exports” as recommended by your respective MDAs as follows: (At this point, Minister requests that members be called out for recognition and formal inauguration. The TOR is also attached).
- Thank you for your kind attention and with all pleasure, I hereby inaugurate this committee and declare the program open and wish you all fruitful deliberations.
Thank you and God bless.
Terms of reference (TOR) for the standing inter-ministerial committee on zero reject initiative are:
- Development of strategies against rejection of commodities and produce of Nigerian origin.
- Designing an implementable 5-year action-plan.
- Developing a single window platform for all regulatory and certification bodies.
- Standardization of all commodities and ensuring quality for local consumption and global acceptance.
- Developing a harmonized manual on Standards, Operations Procedures (SOPs)/code of best practices in national languages and also in local dialects.
- Creating massive public awareness on all areas of quality control, standardization and certification especially on produce, commodities and consumables of comparative advantages, also to the grassroots, where youths and women play prominent roles.
- Mobilize all key players across board—MDAs, the organized private sector, commercial banks, specialized UN Agencies, certification bodies, and development partners, emphasis on the issue of commodities quality assurance, both for local consumption and export drive.
- Development of the cold-room chain for fresh produce, storage, packaging, testing and exit controls both at seaports and airports.