- Experts Seek End to EU Ban on Nigerian Produce
Founding President, Mycotoxicology Society of Nigeria, Prof. Dele Fapohunda, has urged the Federal Government to address the ban placed on some Nigerian produce by the European Union (EU).
The EU in June, 2015 suspended Nigerian food items like beans, sesame seeds, melon seeds, Dry fish, meat, and peanut chips, among others, from entering Europe till June 2016. However, the ban has been further extended to June 2019 following the country’s inability to meet the prescribed food safety standards by the EU.
According to the European Food Safety Authority, the rejected beans were found to contain between 0.03mg per kg to 4.6mg/kg of dichlorvos pesticide. The acceptable maximum residue limit is 0.01mg/kg.The excess chemical in the produce are said to be harmful to health.
Fapohunda, who is the dean, School of Basic and Applied Sciences, Babcock University, Ilishan, Ogun State, said it was imperative for the government to resolve the issue before the deadline given by the EU to correct the anomaly.
His words: “2019 is the one of great expectations for Nigeria and the European countries. The second leg of the back to back ban on the export of dried beans from Nigeria will be due for a review. It will be recalled that a one year ban was slammed on Nigeria for repeatedly sending beans that were laden with a pesticide called dichlorvos at levels alarmingly higher than the EU and global limits. Not comfortable with any sign of progress aimed at addressing the contaminant issue, Nigeria received a second and heavier penalty of three years that will now terminate in 2019.”
He urged the government to take significant steps to tackle issues involved as serious gaps remain and require urgent action.
According to him, there must be a comprehensive system to ensure regulatory compliance to protect consumers from food safety hazards.
These include surveillance, education, monitoring and regulating use of pesticides in agro exports preparation.
He observed: “The zero reject initiative is laudable effort but one hopes that all factors that could contribute to the presence of contaminants in agricultural produce will have been taken care of. The storage time and delay at point of exit, vis-a-vis the extant viability of such crops are a few non-regulated factors that may account for possible failure in achieving delivery of wholesome crop.
The present interventions will be test- run over time before ascertaining that Nigeria has complied and now ready to be trusted with her exports.
It will be a disaster if, after all the resources in time , funds and effort over the last three years, Nigeria still finds herself unqualified for clean bill of health. It is hoped that at the point of review of the penalty next year, Nigeria will be eligible once more to embrace international agricultural trade, particularly dried beans.”
He called on the government to make sustained commitment across all sectors to strengthen services essential to help all stakeholders contribute to controlling the threat posed by herbicides and pesticides.
Since then many interventions involving the Federal Ministry of agriculture, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the EU, UNIDO and other partners have come on board to see to the enhancement of the quality of exported crops, all in an attempt to attain a fair intercontinental trade.