After the country was embarrassed
by the foods and drugs agencies of other countries, the National Agency for
Foods and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) addressed the media some
weeks ago that Nigerians should stop embarrassing the country while trying to
export farm produce and processed food. This is rather reactive rather than
proactive and this has raised a lot of questions among Nigerians.
In a place like Lagos, different
radio stations grant interview to organizers of various seminars wherein they
claim to teach people on how to export different food items to other countries.
Does this mean that any NAFDAC officer has never heard about these programmes
for once or the Public Relations unit of the agency do not monitor the media
I do not doubt the availability
of standard and international laboratories of NAFDAC but I doubt the
effectiveness of these laboratories. Even locally especially herbal drugs that
has passed through this said laboratories cannot be totally sacrosanct. Also,
there are a lot of bottled water that have been certified by the organization
and it is not fit for human consumption.
In my search for information
about how farm produce are certified before bring exported, I found out that
there is no standard way of testing. The requirements of the products differ
and the specifications of each country differ. I would like to know if NAFDAC
has a catalogue of the specification of all the destinations where these
products are exported to across the world.
Equally, the NAFDAC approval that
is granted to edibles, like Knorr, a food seasoning and products of the
Nigerian Bottling Company is not accepted overseas. As such, the international
accreditation done locally does not guarantee the external certification by
other agencies. People would not take the claims of NAFDAC seriously because of
How free is any transaction with
a government official in Nigeria? This is a very cogent question that needs to
be answered by those working in Government ministries and agencies. The Federal
Road Safety Corps (FRSC) reiterates that driving license is N6,500 but I am yet
to see people who did it at that rate. The cheapest I have heard from people is
N15,000 without receipt. The culture of kickback, kick-forward and
kick-in-between while trying to get the produce certified in the civil service
way would either kill the entrepreneur or make him loss business.
Before the era of the late
Professor Dora Akunyili, NAFDAC was a toothless bull dog in Nigeria. During the
days of the Midas’ touch of Professor Akunyili; those who manufactured drugs
sat up and Nigeria was better for it. NAFDAC was everywhere from the dailies to
the electronic media. They were either confiscating, destroying or sensitizing
Nigerians about a particular product that should not be consumed. We have
returned to the dark days when Nigerians were guinea pigs used to test fake and
The Ministry of Agriculture cannot
also be exempted from all the issues. Many farm settlements have died either a
natural or artificial death because the extension workers are not supportive
enough; many improved seedlings have been ceded to the family of the extension
workers. In fact, the fertilizer that was shown to be purchased by the state
government on television have been given to their associates who have the
wherewithal to manage their farms.
Also, there is no education about
the use of pesticides. Farmers do not know how to apply pesticides; farmers intuitively
apply these chemicals. As such, by the time the crops are harvested, they are
unfit for human consumption and exportation.
There are professionals in the
area of Agricultural Engineering. These are the corps of people that should
help with advanced farm tools and implements that would change the crude ways
of preserving farm produces and other commodities that need be exported. If
truly, the process used in producing dried fish and meat is not healthy then
the onus lies on them to manufacture equipment that will help us to be healthy
as Nigerians. Moreover, these are even ways of improving on our traditional
ways of life.
The Nigerian Export Promotion
Council (NEPC) needs to double up in her efforts to ensure that Nigerian
remains a country that can export farm produce and other processed foods to
other countries. The agency can help in working closely with other
multi-lateral institutions to developing homegrown solutions before making it
available for export.
The Nigerian project is in
progress and there is a lot of synergy that is needed across agencies,
ministries and the private sector. We need to develop a structure wherein all
loopholes are blocked. There should be laboratories at all the Ministries that
has to deal with human lives. Either in Nigeria or other countries, human lives
is the fulcrum of development. We cannot continue to trivialize good health for
profiteering sake. We all need to work together to make our country great while
we are not limited in the volume of export to other nations of the world.