By UDO ONYEKA
Stakeholders have been asked to 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, Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service, NAQS, Dr. Vincent Isgebe, gave this advise during a strategic engagement with the President of Cowpea Association of Nigeria, Alhaji Shitu Mohammed, recently in Abuja.
Dr Isgebe said the pattern of boom and bust in cowpea export owes to the ingrained issue of high pesticide residue.
” The pesticides are 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.
According him the country losses foreign exchange and thousands of jobs when export of cowpea or any other agricultural commodity is suspended on account of a steady trend of intolerable quality defects.
He advised cowpea value chain actors to form a network of cooperatives and embrace the principle of scrupulous self-regulation.
NAQS task 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 mentioned that ”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.
Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS) is the national agricultural quarantine authority of the federation and the single point of command for all agricultural quarantine activities in Nigeria. NAQS is mandated to regulate and promote sanitary and phytosanitary measures related to the import and export of agricultural products. The Agency facilitates international trade for Nigerian agricultural commodities.
It also ensures that Nigerian agricultural products intended for export meet international standards, particularly the requirements of the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC), the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and the requirements of the destination countries.