The Nigerian agricultural and agro-allied sector was agog yesterday as news filtered in yesterday that the EU (European Union) had finally lifted its ban on beans imports from Nigeria.
The Director General, National Agency for Food and Drug Control (NAFDAC), Dr. Yetunde Oni who broke the news of the lifting during an oversight function visit to the Agency by the Health Committee of the Nigerian Senate said the lifting of the ban was possible because of strategic measures put in place by NAFDAC to improvise locally made products in other to suit both local and international demand.
While the news is a relief for farmers and related businesses in Nigerian, the lifting will be in place for the next three years after which a review of factors that originally necessitated the initial ban could be carried out.
It would be recalled that the EU had imposed a ban in June 2015 on some food items from Nigeria following a finding by the European Food Safety Authority that samples of beans from Nigeria contained between 0.03mg per kilogramme to 4.6mg/kg the pesticide, dichlorvos, the values that were far above the acceptable maximum residue limit of 0.01mg/kg and were considered very dangerous to human health.
Apart from beans, sesame seeds, melon seeds, dried fish and meat, peanut chips and palm oil from Nigeria were also banned. At the time the ban was announced, the Nigerian economy was already riling from the effects of reduced income from oil (its mainstay) because of fluctuations on the international market. The ban which was a major setback for farmers in Nigeria at the time it was first announced worsened the financial situation country.
Although the initial ban was to elapse in June 2016, it was renewed same June by a further three years. Meaning, the extension of the ban was to elapse in 2019. Thus, the sudden lifting of the ban in November, 2016, a mere five months after the extension, is good news and a pointer that Nigeria was finally beginning to do something right after all.
But beyond the cheering news of the lift of the ban, more important is adherence to global standards on food safety, food preservation methods environmental issues and related matters. All hands must be on deck to raise more awareness on these issues amongst members of the public and particularly amongst farmers and equipping them with necessary skills.
We at wastesmart.org are ready to play our part and help intensive efforts on sensitisation of farmers and mobilization of other stakeholders to ensure food security and food safety in Nigeria.