USDA: Nigerian Agricultural Exports Rejected Due To Poor Food Safety Documentation

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News in brief:
– Nigerian agricultural produce is rejected in the US due to lack of food safety documentation, USDA official says.
– Improving food safety practices would boost Nigeria’s economy and increase foreign exchange reserves.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has attributed the rejection of Nigerian agricultural produce in the United States to lack of adequate food safety documentation, according to local news sources.

According to Christopher Bielecki, Councilor for Agriculture Affairs at the USDA, this is the main issue preventing Nigerian agricultural producers from exporting their produce to the world market freely.

Bielecki made the revelation at a Food and Feed Safety Expertise Coordination workshop organised by the Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG) in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (FMOH), the Food and Agriculture Export Alliance (FAEA), and the University of Missouri (MU).

He said that proper food safety documentation is crucial for ensuring the safety and quality of imported agricultural products.

However, he also acknowledged that the issue of agricultural product rejection is not unique to Nigeria as the USDA is commited to upholding strict food safety regulations and standards for all imported products.

It is therefore important for Nigerian exporters to comply with these requirements to enhance their access to the lucrative US market. For context, the US agriculture imports reached $199 billion in 2022.

Additionally, Bielecki emphasised the positive impact of improving food safety practices on Nigeria’s economy. He explained that enhanced food safety measures would not only reduce rejections and stimulate trade but also contribute to the country’s agricultural sector growth, increase GDP, and bolster foreign exchange reserves.

In response to the USDA’s observations, Ali Pate, Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, affirmed the FMOH’s dedication to ensuring food safety and quality in Nigeria. He announced that the ministry plans to validate the revised National Policy on Food Safety and Quality as well as launch the first National Integrated Guidelines for Foodborne Disease Surveillance and Response. These initiatives aim to strengthen the regulatory framework, improve data collection, and enhance the monitoring of foodborne diseases in Nigeria.

Pate added that food security encompasses not only the availability and affordability of food but also the safety and nutritional quality of consumed food. He called for enhanced collaboration among relevant agencies to support the FMOH’s efforts in developing and implementing effective policies, regulations, and monitoring systems that promote continuous improvement in food safety standards.

The workshop concluded with a call for concerted action among stakeholders to address the challenges of food safety in Nigeria.

Joseph Akahome
Joseph Akahome
Joseph O Akahome (OJ) is a writer, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Literature from the University of Benin. He is an avid agriculturist, with a bias for poultry and an insatiable appetite for chicken wings. When he is neither reading nor researching, he likes to spend recreational time playing board games, or swimming in serene forested lakes.

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