Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service has said that the country loses $362.5m yearly to the export ban on dried cowpea.
At the inauguration of the Standing Committee on Agro Zero Initiative recently, the Director-General NAQS, Dr. Vincent Isegbe, advised that Nigeria should resume conventional export control measures at all ports of entry to optimise its comparative advantage in agricultural commodities and diversify the economy.
NAQS Head, Media, Communications and Strategy, Chigozie Nwodo, Isegbe stated, “Nigeria is the largest producer of dried cowpea in the world, accounting for almost half of global production.”
He noted, however, that the country was not among the top 10 exporters of dried cowpea, pointing out that this was essentially due to the absence of proper gatekeeping to ensure that commodities passed for export met pesticide residue standards and other phytosanitary requirements.
“Lack of export quality guarantees and the resultant off and on pattern of the export traffic of Nigerian dried beans was costing the country $362.5m in foreign revenue yearly,” he said.
Speaking on the weak link in the bean value chain, Isegbe said the ban was occasioned by an export control gap, which allowed the shipping of dried beans with pesticide residues higher than the permissible threshold.
He mentioned that the result of the extensive fieldwork and laboratory analyses by NAQS showed that the challenge of high pesticide residue in Nigerian beans was not from the farm.
The bean samples collected from the farms had low pesticide residues – beneath the maximum residue level of Nigeria’s trading partners, while bean samples collected from the warehouses had high pesticide residues, above the MRL, he explained.
According to him, the wide differential indicates that high pesticide use is traceable to the bulk buyers, aggregators and exporters.
His words, “In an attempt to protect their stock against weevils and other storage pests, these set of actors usually lace their beans with pesticides liberally; thereby raising the pesticide residues in the commodity above the MRL and unwittingly rendering them ineligible for export.”
NAQS is carrying out intensive public awareness on the dangers of indiscriminate use of pesticides, he disclosed.