Director General, National Agency for Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Dr. Paul Orhii, stated recently that Nigeria has been given till June 16, 2016 by the European Union to put a management system in place to reduce pesticide contaminated food products the country exports to the region or face continued rejection of exports.
The agency noted that the recent incident threatening economy was not far from the rejection of food items produced in the country for international markets especially in Europe, US and recently, Japan, where they aired some concern about the quality of some products that were exported from Nigerian market.
Orhii hinted that these food products were rejected at the international market because of their high pesticide residue which actually was what Nigerians consume at home.
He disclosed this while briefing the new Comptroller General of the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), Col. Hameed Ali (rtd.), who paid a working courtesy visit to NAFDAC office in Abuja.
According to him, “This high pesticide residue could explain the increased level of cancers, kidney failures and different other diseases in the country. The agency will henceforth deploy mobile laboratories that will go from farm to farm and markets to identify at what point the contaminants get into the food products. Once we identify it, we will conduct public awareness campaign and workshops for the people growing these foods.
“We also want to put a system in place so that before these products leave our shores to the international markets, the NCS can inquire and test these products to curb the incidence of rejects at the markets as this is seriously crippling our economy. This is most especially when it comes to agricultural products like sesame seeds and beans which sometimes contain some contaminants like aflatoxins- pesticides residue.”
He continued: “When we came in, Nigerian cocoa beans were being rejected at the international market because of pesticides residue but we held workshops with cocoa growers in Akure and since then, our cocoa exports have improved. NAFDAC’s collaboration with the NCS has come a long way right from the inception of the agency and we pledged our commitment at making such collaboration grow even stronger.
“We are very happy that you talked about using technology to make our work easier and we will continue to improve in that regard. We are also aware of the radical reforms that are going on in the Nigerian Customs under your command and we fully support it and assure you that we are poised to partner with the NCS to keep Nigeria off smuggled counterfeit and substandard regulated products,” Orhii said.
In his remarks, Col. Ali said, his coming to NAFDAC office was for the creation of a platform, seek better ties and collaboration in so many ways. “We work under the same atmosphere, we support each other at sea ports, at borders and everywhere.There is no reason why today given the technology that, we cannot create a synergy that we can from anywhere to be able to communicate issues that concerns one another. We should be able to communicate with the present technology and I believe we are working for one single goal and that is to cleanse Nigeria and make sure that Nigeria becomes a great nation.
“We have a great task because whoever is given the job of enforcement, he has a great task in his life. Those that conduct pure administration, they have it easy but for us, we are always in the bad book of those bad guys. It is something that we have accepted to do and it is something we must do if this country must be great. Like I always tell people, if they are fortunate to be on the enforcement side, they should not be nice guys, nobody will call you a nice guy and if you are nice, it then means that you are not doing your duty.