The Director General of Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Dr Joseph Odumodu, has said that Nigeria loses huge sums from the exportation of untested agricultural products.
Odumodu made the disclosure while speaking with newsmen in Abuja on Monday.
He said if the country wanted to promote non-oil export, it could not achieve the target by selling sub-standard commodities.
Odumodu said while Nigeria like other countries was focusing on agro business to earn revenue; its main challenge in the exportation of produce was that exporters never followed the law on standardisation.
“Lots of Nigerians are now exporting agricultural products but one of the challenges we have seen is that most of our commodities are not easily accepted in Europe.
“The challenge we have is that people try not to do what the law says.
“Exporters send goods without testing them and once they get there and are tested, if the goods do not comply with the standard, it will be destroyed or sent back to Nigeria.
“So such act gives the country bad image because it is negative news yet it is one person who tries to smuggle the product into that country,” he said.
Odumodu said Nigeria must clearly define the process for exporting agricultural produce and put sanctions in place for defaulters.
“I think what we need to do going forward is to create sanctions, there must be a clearly defined process for export of agricultural products.
“Once those processes are defined, then the onus will now be on us to ensure that before you send any produce out of Nigeria, it must be tested and certified by an accredited lab. It doesn’t have to be owned by SON.
“There is no other agency or any lab that has that level of scope for agricultural producce and we test something as complex as metal in food up to fungi contamination,” Odumodu said.
He said Nigeria is a member of CODEX Allimentarius Committee, a standardisation body affiliated to World Health Organisation, and responsible for determining standards for food products.
“However, every regional economic community also has a right to impose additional restrictions or increase specification,” he said.
The SON Director-General said most times, in order to preserve products for export, Nigerians added more chemicals than required and as a result such products were rejected at the point of destination.
Odumodu said there was a need to educate exporters on standards and specifications.
Government must ensure that all the relevant agencies come together to have standards.
“The important thing is that all of us must agree that this must be done so that no commodity leaves Nigeria without the certificate of certification.
“Nigeria can achieve 100 per cent acceptance or 0 per cent rejection but we have to do what we have to do back home but we are not doing that,” Odumodu said.