Published On: Fri, Jul 10th, 2015

Stakeholders explored potentials of agriculture at a recent summit

Agriculture
CHIMEZIRI FRANKLIN
The ARSO President’s Forum held in Abuja Nigeria from June 22 to 24, 2015 has given credence to the fact that Nigeria’s national standard body, SON is a willing and able partner in the advancement of Nigeria’s agriculture to major export-revenue earner, especially now that petro-income has reduced to a trickle. Hosted by SON on behalf of the African Union’s apex standardisation body ARSO, it featured the Africa Standardisation Day
Seminar themed: “The Role of Standards in Promoting Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security in Africa”. The seminar, led by the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) Representative in Nigeria, Dr Louise
Setshwaelo, produced clear direction for Africa agriculture and it’s no different from the direction SON has been pointing and walking. I will say more about this seminar later in this discourse.
It is apparent that mankind initially lived in nature’s paradise. Rich, tasty and refreshing fruits and vegetables and excellent meat in form of animals covered the whole earth.  When they were hungry, all they needed do was pluck and gather the fruits and herbs or catch and kill as many animals as they could eat. As their numbers
increased, the availability of ready-to-pluck or ripe for slaughter decreased and they learnt to hunt their game. With more population increase, even hunting could no longer provide the needed food. So they learnt to sustain the generation of required plants and animals; to replenish the earth’s creative stock. This is called farming or agriculture. Farming is a subset of agriculture. Agriculture widely defined includes such stuff as soil science, some biology, some veterinary science, some engineering and some economics and management. Successive waves of population increase have created a gap in the world’s food supply, thereby expanding the frontiers of agriculture.
The productivity of a nation’s agriculture is more important than the number of people in the nation that are engaged in agriculture. This field takes investments for it to deliver optimally. The investments include land, financing, training/expertise and project support communication.
Countries differ in their agricultural potentials. It’s almost a miracle that some countries are food secure or exporters of food. But the material principle is that where their land was largely arid desert, they had the determination to make it fertile and that led them to the technology for achieving it. Israel is an example of that.  Another wonder of the agricultural world is the rooftop and indoor gardens of New York, Chicago, Tokyo and Singapore.  A company sets up a greenhouse in the middle of a mega city, several miles away from soil and by the control of light, temperature and humidity, produces fruits, vegetables and crops all year. Or individual families grow their favourite vegetables on their roof top, taking advantage of the sun’s energy or inside the house by the use of artificial light.
It’s notable that many of the countries that made great progress in agriculture also made great progress in manufacturing and vice versa. South Africa is an industrialized country, exporting machinery, weapons, chemicals and diamond. Yet, she has continued to pay good attention to agriculture despite the fact that just 12-13 percent of her land is arable. She is so careful to keep commercial farming – the source of much of productivity going strong that she has hesitated to give in to the desperate cry of black farmers for the government to take away some land from the white farmers and give to the black farmers. What’s the result? She is not only self-sufficient in food, but is a net exporter of food.
By all accounts, Nigeria’s agricultural potentials are very enviable. In spite of desert encroachment, as much as 70 per cent of Nigeria’s land is arable. This land yielded harvests that made the country the world’s largest producer of palm oil and the world’s second largest producer of cocoa.
This was before the petro-naira flow of the 1970s to the 1990s lured her away from agriculture. Even today Nigeria produces the most cassava in the world.  Income from agriculture made Nigeria one of the richest and fastest developing countries. With her neglect of agriculture, Nigeria has become West Africa’s largest importer of tomato paste, and her yearly import of sugar, rice and fish has reached eleven billion dollars. Unfortunately, crude oil revenue dwindles to a trickle and 70% of Nigerians go without good food.
For sure, fertilizer from Government now gets to the real farmers. This is said to have added several tons to the quantity of food produced in Nigeria. Agricultural export has also shown signs of recovery but the much needed export is fraught with difficulties arising from non-compliance of products to standards. According to the SON director general Dr Joseph Ikem Odumodu, “due to Nigeria produce arriving foreign destinations without test reports from accredited labs, our exporters are surcharged 10 % of the value of their goods to pay foreign testing laboratories.  In the event of the lab finding the goods substandard, the goods are shipped back to Nigeria at the exporter’s expense”.
“What is wrong with the exporter’s goods might be just an error of measurement;” the SON boss explains, “the buyer finding that what the exporter calls 50,000 kg of cocoa is less than that. That happens when the measuring instrument used by the exporter is not well-calibrated or has drifted from accuracy. Unfortunately, the buyer starts seeing the exporter as dishonest or risky. As the advertisement says, the world buys from those whose measurements are accurate. That’s why we are building testing and metrology laboratories to accreditation.”
 From the rundown laboratories his administration inherited, Dr Odumodu has refurbished the SON Food Technology Laboratories and got it accredited. The scope of the competence of this lab extends from biological testing to chemical testing. Any agricultural product that this lab certifies within its area of competence can be successfully exported without further testing. “Our job is not done until we have provided supportive
infrastructure to make sure that certification is available for deserving agricultural produce and that the certification is respected anywhere in the world so that the exporter and the farmer can make all the money there is and continue in business. And that totally agrees with our agenda MINFOW (Made in Nigeria for the World),” the SON boss added.
For products with no standards to follow, SON has also developed standards. This is to encourage best practices among farmers and processors of such products. The products for which first standards have recently been enumerated are garri, cassava flour, cocoa cake, sesame seed, sesame oil, tomato flakes and shea butter. Standards dictate form or grade of the product as well as the packaging and information or labeling the product shall carry.
Giving more insight to these standards, the Head of Codex/Foods at SON, Mrs Margaret Eshiett said, “You won’t find a diseased sesame seed in a pack certified by SON. Secondly you won’t find foreign body or adulteration in certified sesame oil. The content has been verified to be proper.”
“Truly,” she continued, “the standards issues in Nigeria and Africa agriculture are many. Take cocoa for instance. Antiquated methods, poorly trained extension officers or total lack of extension services plus other issues such as over-aged trees and diseased crops all point to the fact that as the national standards body (NSB), we have to help rescue Nigeria agriculture.”
As earlier said, the FAO Representative in Nigeria Dr Louise Setshwaelo’s speech at the Africa Standardisation Day Seminar in Abuja validated the path SON has been walking with Dr Odumodu as its director-general. Her call for increased investment in agriculture tallies with SON’s call for increased investment in national quality infrastructure (NQI) which comprises of standards, testing laboratories, metrology the science of measurement, accreditation and the legislation establishing all the NQI components. She confirmed the important role SON plays in agriculture by saying that standardisation and regulatory systems are the way Africa can modernize her agriculture.
A participant at the seminar who is an agro-businessman, Professor Udo Herbert spoke on the significance of FAO’s interest in a SON seminar and the NSB’s intervention in agriculture: “I am delighted with the acceptance of the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) of the work SON is doing for agriculture. It is only through the enthronement of the quality culture in our agriculture that we can hope to realize our
potentials of having food for ourselves and successfully exporting our surplus to other countries of the world.”
In all, with the massive moral and quality infrastructure support from SON, Nigeria agriculture has brighter days ahead of it. As the nation’s quality infrastructure gets increasing testing laboratory and metrology boosts, the days of most Nigerians going hungry and Nigerian agro-exporters meeting a reluctant global market will be over.

© 2015, Hallmarknews. All rights reserved. Reference and link to this site is required if you wish to reuse any article.

Reactions from Facebook

comments and opinions

Leave a comment

XHTML: You can use these html tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Most Shared

Recent posts

  • Modric defeats Ronaldo, Salah to emerge FIFA’s Footballer of the Year 2018

    Real Madrid and Croatia midfielder Luka Modric has been named the Best Men’s Player at The Best FIFA Football Awards on Monday evening, fighting off competition from fellow nominees Cristiano Ronaldo and Mohamed Salah. The award caps off an incredible year for Modric, who won his fourth Champions League title with Real Madrid in May, […]

  • Nigerian bond market witnesses low demand

    A slowdown in client demand characterizes the bond market on Monday, unlike sentiments witnessed for the most part of last week. This is on the back of expected renewed supply at the bond auction on Wednesday, where the Debt Management Office (DMO) would raise a total of N90billion from the 2023, 2025 and 2028 maturities. […]

  • Oil price climbs to four-year high as Saudi, Russia turn Trump down

    Oil prices have hit a four-year high of over $81 a barrel after Saudi Arabia and Russia rejected calls by Donald Trump to increase production. Brent crude hit its highest level since November 2014 at $81.16 a barrel, up 3 per cent on the day. Saudi Arabia led the c oil cartel, while Russia is […]

  • Buhari releases N22bn to Nigerian Airways retirees

    The Federal Government has released N22.68 billion to settle part of the retirement benefits of former workers of the defunct Nigeria Airways. The government has also approved the release of N20 billion to revitalise public universities in line with demands of the Academic Staff of Universities (ASUU). Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, made the disclosure […]

  • MPC set for another policy freeze

    By FELIX OLOYEDE Despite the outcry for lower domestic interest rates, the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) is expected to leave the Monetary Policy Rate (MPR) at 14 per cent as it responds to inflation jitters ahead of the 2019 general elections, say economists. The MPC meeting schedule to hold today, Monday 24th 2018 and Tuesday […]

  • Ambode fights for his political life

    By OBINNA EZUGWU It is no longer news; the political love affair in Lagos state is in trouble. For the first time since 1999, a sitting governor is facing a real challenge from his own party for the ticket. The indignity can only be imagined and its implications continue to reverberate across the state and […]

  • Adeosun: Betrayed by a dysfunctional system (Editorial)

    A fortnight ago, former Finance Minister Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, resigned her position following the report of an investigative panel into allegations of NYSC certificate forgery against her. The allegation had been earlier made by an online newspaper, Premium Times, and the nation was agog with speculations about it. Her resignation has been interpreted by most […]

  • High cost of Nomination Forms: A conspiracy against the youths

    From PETER OKORE, Umuahia Amidst the mixed feelings trailing the high cost of Nomination Forms for interested candidates to participate in the 2019 general elections, there is growing consensus for the electorate should go for credible candidates rather than political parties in order to achieve desired results. This is because since some political parties in the […]

  • Govt bottlenecks still inhibiting agric business– Farmfields CEO

    Mr. Zanau Hassan Maikasuwa is the CEO of Farmfields Agro-allied Services, an agro-allied consulting and supply firm located in Jalingo, Taraba State. He is an ardent agricultural expert and a strong believer of improving agricultural methods for an improved and more rewarding agricultural sector in Nigeria. In this interview with BLESSING PETER, he assessed the […]

  • China and Nigeria’s debt burden

    By AYOOLA OLAOLUWA Experts have raised the alarm over the continued foray of Chinese businesses and massive funds into Nigeria, saying it portend danger for the country. They argued that the nation risk falling into debt trap, joblessness, among other costs, as is being experienced by several Africans countries. Available data indicate that apart from the […]

  • New Banks fight for survival 

    By OKEY ONYENWEAKU A clutch of new financial institutions are beginning to slowly appear on Nigeria’s banking scene as the once fragile economy wriggles out of a recession that held sway between the middle of 2015 and the second quarter of 2017. The renewed institutional confidence in the economy (which has grown more recently at […]

  • Gov poll: Stalemate in Osun as APC, PDP live to fight another day

    The Independent National Electoral Commission on Sunday declared the Osun State governorship election inconclusive. The candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Ademola Adeleke, had polled 254,698 votes against that of the All Progressives Congress, Gboyega Oyetola, who polled 254,345 votes. However, due to irregularities which marred the election at some polling units in Ife North, […]

  • Ambode fights for his political life

    By OBINNA EZUGWU It is no longer news; the political love affair in Lagos state is in trouble. For the first time since 1999, a sitting governor is facing a real challenge from his own party for the ticket. The indignity can only be imagined and its implications continue to reverberate across the state and […]

  • Business Hallmark Cover Page for this week

    © 2018, Hallmarknews. All rights reserved. Reference and link to this site is required if you wish to reuse any article. Reactions from Facebook comments and opinions

  • Customers fret over Skye Bank’s demise

    By Okey Onyenweaku There was subdued anxiety within the finance circles throughout the weekend over the collapse of Skye Bank plc. The sudden demise of the stricken lender, caught many industry stakeholders napping. However, usually reliable sources confirmed to Business Hallmark that the move had long been anticipated and was carefully managed to protect depositors […]

  • Cover

    © 2018, Hallmarknews. All rights reserved. Reference and link to this site is required if you wish to reuse any article. Reactions from Facebook comments and opinions