The United States Department for Agriculture (USDA) has attributed rejection of Nigeria agricultural produce on the lack of food safety documentation.
The Councilor for Agriculture Affairs, USDA, Christopher Bielecki, disclosed this yesterday in Abuja at a Food and Feed Safety Expertise Coordination workshop organised by the Nigeria Economic Summit Group in partnership with Federal Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, the Food and Agriculture Export Alliance (FAEA) and the University of Missouri (MU).
He said: “I have spoken to producers, who are challenged with the difficulty of exporting Nigerian agricultural produce to the world including the U.S.; they have reported a high rate of rejection and this rejection mostly as a result of lack of documentation on food safety.”
While mentioning that the issue of rejection of agricultural produce in America is not unique to only Nigeria, the USDA official stated that his office is working to ensure that food and agricultural exporters into the U.S. abide by importing rules of food safety regulations and laws.
Bielecki stated that improving food safety will not only help reduce rejections, stimulate trade, but also help Nigeria improve food and agricultural trade, increase GDP and increase foreign reserves.
The Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Ali Pate, stated that in a deliberate effort to ensure country attain National health security status, the ministry is set to validate the revised National Policy on Food Safety and Quality, as well as launch the first National Integrated Guidelines for Food borne Disease Surveillance and Response.
The revised policy, he stated, will look at new and emerging areas that will improve the regulatory, enforcement and data-gathering system as well as set the roadmap for the integrated surveillance of foodborne diseases and establish the protocols for the response to food safety emergencies in the country.
While stating that food security is not only about the availability and affordability of food, but it is also about ensuring that the foods consumed are safe, healthy and nutritious. Pate called for increased collaboration by relevant agencies to support the ministry in their commitment to providing effective policies, regulations, and monitoring systems that ensure continuous improvement in food safety standards and practices.
NESG Chief Executive Officer (designate), Dr. Tayo Aduloju, mentioned that Nigeria’s commitment to upholding the highest food safety standards is paramount to the well-being and progress of the country, saying by collaborating and pooling collective expertise, regulatory frameworks can be strengthened to enhance the overall quality of food and feed in the country.
Aduloju stated that for Nigeria’s agricultural sector to thrive, there was need for effective regulatory, institutional and policy frameworks that address the gaps in food and feed safety to not only improve the well-being of citizens but also impact the country’s position in international trade, saying to benefit effectively from the AFCTA, reforming food and feed safety systems in Nigeria is inevitable.