By Anthony Areh
The Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS) has called on stakeholders to synergise and address the weak link in cowpea value chain in order to establish continuity of international market access.
Dr Vincent Isgebe, NAQS Director-General made the call in a statement jointly issued by the service and the President, Cowpea Association of Nigeria, Alhaji Shitu Mohammed on Monday in Abuja,
Isegbe said that the pattern of boom and bust in cowpea export as result of the ingrained issue of high pesticide residue, largely introduced during the storage phase.
“The residue levels in the cowpea tend to rise above the maximum threshold set by certain customs union and this makes the product unacceptable in crucial destinations.
“We need to make a clean break from imprudent application of storage pesticides and consolidate a reputation for producing and delivering cowpea that satisfy relevant quality criteria,” he said.
The NAQS boss said that the country losses foreign exchange and thousands of jobs when export of cowpea or any other agricultural commodity was suspended on account of a steady trend of intolerable quality defects.
He, however, advised cowpea value chain actors to form a network of cooperatives and embrace the principle of scrupulous self-regulation.
According to him, as the people who benefit most when business is brisk, it behooves all value chain players to take the initiative to ensure that good agricultural practices suffuse the entire process of producing export-destined cowpea.
Similarly, Mohammed, identified lack of awareness as the root cause of high pesticide residue at the storage endpoint.
He noted that stakeholders commonly regarded the liberal application of pesticides as a way to protect their produce from weevils and preserve the material value of their produce.
“They did not know that they were effectively demarketing the produce and setting up themselves not to make profit.
”The intervening period in which cowpea export has been at a low ebb has given stakeholders light-bulb moment. They are now ready to adapt. “Everyone is eager to go organic so that stability, momentum and growth can return to the value chain,” Mohammed said.