‘Why EU ex­tends sus­pen­sion on Nige­rian beans’

Dr. Vin­cent Isegbe is the Co­or­di­nat­ing Direc­tor, Nige­rian Agri­cul­tural Quar­an­tine Ser­vices. In this in­ter­view, he tells Daily Trust why the Euro­pean Union (EU) ex­tended the sus­pen­sion of Nige­rian beans for another three years. Ex­cerpts:

Daily Trust - - GOLDEN HARVEST - By Vin­cent A. Yusuf

What is the up­date on the sus­pen­sion of Nige­rian beans by the EU?

It’s rather un­for­tu­nate that the Euro­pean Union has ex­tended the sus­pen­sion by another three years. The first one was one year, which started June last year and was sup­posed to have ended 30th of June this year. Un­for­tu­nately by 1st of July, the EU is­sued reg­u­la­tion No 2016/874 which ex­tended the sus­pen­sion for another three years. Ac­cord­ing to them, they wanted us to have more con­trol over the qual­ity of beans that is be­ing ex­ported to the EU.

It is rather un­for­tu­nate and very em­bar­rass­ing and painful some­thing that we in quar­an­tine are sad­dened about be­cause we are ac­tu­ally look­ing for­ward to the lift­ing of the sus­pen­sion on or be­fore June 30th. So it came to us as a shock. I be­lieve the EU was look­ing for some­thing, which for some rea­sons was not there. As a coun­try, we need to play ac­cord­ing to the in­ter­na­tional rules and reg­u­la­tions. We are a mem­ber of the World Trade Or­gan­i­sa­tion (WTO) and there are cer­tain re­quire­ments that we have to ful­fill as mem­bers of body be­cause we are trad­ing part­ners with other coun­tries. It is only in Nige­ria - a very se­ri­ous agri­cul­tural coun­try - that we don’t have quar­an­tine ser­vices at the crit­i­cal points, es­pe­cially the sea­ports from where agri­cul­tural pro­duce are ex­ported in bulk.

What are the rea­sons the EU gave for this sus­pen­sion?

One of the crit­i­cal is­sues the EU raised was that they wanted us to show ev­i­dence of ex­port con­trol. Two, trace­abil­ity: how ef­fi­cient is our trace­abil­ity sys­tem. The third is­sue has to do with the struc­ture put in place.

Con­cern­ing the is­sue of ex­port con­trol, you will be sur­prised that some­one ex­ported beans through our sea­port to EU in the course of the one year sus­pen­sion and the beans were sent back to Nige­ria. We don’t have ac­cess to most of the sea­ports and so we are not in a po­si­tion to know and check all the agri­cul­tural pro­duce that leave the coun­try. So you see how dif­fi­cult it is for us to trace these kinds of peo­ple.

Fol­low­ing the fed­eral gov­ern­ment di­rec­tive in 2011 for 48 hours clear­ance and cargo in­spec­tion, some gov­ern­ment agen­cies were asked to leave the ports and quar­an­tine ser­vice was one of those asked to leave the ports. As crit­i­cal as quar­an­tine is, we had to obey gov­ern­ment or­der and so we left. The same cir­cu­lar said we can be called upon by Cus­toms on needs ba­sis. If Cus­toms needs us, they will call us, if they do not no­tify us that there is a con­sign­ment for us to in­spect, we will not know. All the beans that were even­tu­ally re­turned dur­ing the last pe­riod that re­sulted in that sus­pen­sion did not pass through the Nige­rian Agri­cul­tural Quar­an­tine Ser­vice (NAQS), this is on record.

Are there other crops also af­fected by this ban?

No. Only beans has been put un­der the three-year sus­pen­sion. We may have is­sues on one-onone cases; maybe for some rea­sons a con­sign­ment has an is­sue, only that con­sign­ment will be treated as the case is. In some cases, they may want a con­fir­ma­tion ei­ther on the photo-san­i­tary cer­tifi­cate or the fact that these goods came from Nige­ria, we is­sue the con­fir­ma­tion on­line.

We’ve been hav­ing very fruit­ful veg­etable ex­ports. We are show­cas­ing what we call Emerg­ing Agri­cul­tural Com­modi­ties - things that we ne­glected like tiger nut, Shea but­ter, cin­na­mon and a lot of culi­nary spices, which are fetch­ing a lot of money and the de­mands are grow­ing es­pe­cially in Asia and the Mid­dle East.

In fact, our hibis­cus is the best in the world be­cause you can titrate up to four times and more than 1000 con­tain­ers leave this coun­try an­nu­ally.

Dr. Vin­cent Isegbe

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