The Federal Government through the Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS) yesterday said that the country is losing foreign exchange and thousands of jobs when exports of cowpea or any other agricultural commodity is suspended on account of a steady trend of intolerable quality defects.
However, the government said agricultural stakeholders must work together to address the weak link in the cowpea value chain in order to establish continuity of market access for Nigerian beans.
The Director-General of the Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service, Dr. Vincent Isegbe, made this known in Abuja during a strategic engagement with the President of Cowpea Association of Nigeria, Alhaji Shitu Mohammed, on cowpea development in the country.
According to him, the issue of beans ban by the European Union on the country for beans export due to the high pesticide residue in the crop can only be addressed through collaboration and the cooperation of all stakeholders. He noted that; ”The pat- tern of boom and bust in cowpea export was due to the ingrained issue of high pesticide residue. “The pesticides are largely introduced during the storage phase.
The residue level 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 advised cowpea value chain actors to form a network of cooperatives and embrace the principle of scrupulous self-regulation.
The NAQS maintained that as the people who benefit most when business was 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.
In his remarks, Alhaji Shitu Mohammed identified lack of awareness as the root cause of high pesticide residue at the storage endpoint.
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 didn’t know that they were effectively demarketing the produce and setting up themselves not to make profit.
He said: ”The intervening period in which cowpea export has been at a low ebb has given stakeholders a 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.”
Alhaji Mohammed thanked Dr. Isegbe for faithfully advancing the implementation of the workplan designed to remedy the contextual gaps that occasioned the recurring disruptions of cowpea export.