The Minister of Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Mohammed Abubakar, has said that Nigeria is losing high volume of its annual farm produce to damage from pests.
Abubakar made this known at a ministerial press briefing on Monday to mark the International Day of Plant Health 2021 in Abuja.
He emphasised the need to take plant health seriously, saying that plants are in constant danger of attack by viruses, bacteria, insects among others.
“Healthy plants are at the code of food security and our ability to meet our nutritional needs and dietary preferences hinge on the status of our plant health.
“These plant health threats undermine food security and increase vulnerability of livelihoods dependent on crop value chains, healthy plants mean a thriving economy,” he said.
He said the healthier the plant resources are, the more business value Nigeria can generate from crop and create jobs in the crop value chains.
According to him, one of the challenges in plant health is the uncontrolled use of plant protection products such as the use of sniper and other lethal chemicals to store food products, which he said was dangerous and deadly.
He said President Buhari in demonstration of strengthening plant protection system had assented to Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service Bill to manage and minimise risks to the agricultural economy, food safety and the environment.
The Director-General of NAQS, Dr Vincent Isegbe, pledged that the quarantine service would continue to maintain plant, animal and fish health to meet international standards and help generate economic growth.
Isegbe said why most of Nigeria’s agricultural produce were being rejected by European countries was because both owners and exporters do not package the produce to meet international standards.
He said “Nigeria is blessed with different agricultural produce and we can make money from them when we export them but there was need to subject the goods to pre-requisite quarantine inspection and certification before dispatch.
”But the problem is that other countries come to Nigeria and buy of agricultural produce such as ginger, garlic and so on then go to repackage them and export them.
“We want to work with stakeholders along the value chain to ensure that Nigeria agricultural produce make it out and this will help us generate money for Nigeria and our farmers,” he said.
He said most of the medicinal plants we export need to be grinded and packaged before exporting otherwise they would be prohibited
He said the EU accepts both live and frozen agricultural produce provided they are free from pests and diseases, adding that NAQS always ensures that all export-bound agricultural produce are properly processed in line with good hygienic practices.