By Anthony Areh
Dr Vincent Isegbe, the Director-General, Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS), has reported that the export of agricultural produce would soon pick up and gather pace.
Isegbe said in a statement by Dr Gozie Nwodo, NAQS Head, Media, Communications and Strategies that the Federal Government had authorised the agency to fully resume its export certification duties at all ports immediately.
He said the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) had also issued a directive instructing MDAs and state governments to cooperate with NAQS to enable restoration of agriculture export traffic.
”The lockdown announced as part of the strategy to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus occasioned a hiatus in the agricultural value chain.
“This brought almost all the states under one form of curfew or the other, and the ban on interstate transportation, institutional and logistical barricades blocking human and vehicular movement everywhere.
”The situation made the passage of agricultural commodities from the remote production spots to the ports which are mostly located in the urban areas difficult,” he said.
Isegbe disclosed that the Federal Government granted the agency authorisation to make agro-export kinetic again.
He said there was the need to free all functions related to agricultural export on both the public and private sectors side from any encumbrance.
“The Nigeria Customs Service, Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO Aviance), Skyway Aviation Handling Company (SAHCO), Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), the Federal Road Safety Commission, Vehicle Inspection Office, the Nigerian Police, other security agencies and stakeholders are now under obligation to work in concert with NAQS.
“This collaboration is to reanimate agricultural export.
“Producer and transit state governments are expected to grant the right to free passage to the consignments along corridors that have been mapped by NAQS under a best logistics-support arrangement,” he said.
Isegbe called on all relevant entities in the agricultural export environment to play their respective parts to foster the return of business to normal pace.
The D-G noted that agricultural export accounted for the lion’s share of Nigeria’s non-oil export performance.
He said ”given the drop in crude prices, job losses and the slump in global economy, it is critical for Nigerian agricultural export to stand to its full height as one of the twin pillars of the Nigerian economy.”
Isegbe said NAQS had creatively adapted to the current context challenges, adding that it would balance professional protocols and adherence to all COVID-19 safety precautions in the inspection and certification of agricultural products.