Ensuring quality compliance through a structured identification system
Have you ever seen an Egg with barcodes? Well, what of a brand name that looks like a stamp? The latter may ring a bell, since at least one Egg producing company in Nigeria is known to be using it, and one may have seen it on shelves in some supermarkets.
Standardisation has generally been a recurring decimal in Nigeria’s agricultural output, and in 2016, the lack of it assumed an embarrassing international dimension. The EU banned beans of Nigeria origin from being imported in member countries for containing unacceptable levels of Dichlorvos. But then, it was impossible for Nigerian authorities to determine from whose farms did what batch of beans come from. An identification system where billions of eggs are tagged, surely can be replicated in Nigeria for a wide range of agricultural commodities (by bag tagging) in identifying their origins and tracking quality compliance. Bean grains surely may not be tagged, but the packaging is possible, and what Dutch (and other European) farmers are doing in egg production can be a good practise to inculcate.
From a standardisation point of view, a proper identification system is one of the many things that Nigeria has to learn from the Netherlands in Egg production. In the farm of Jan Noorlander, whose egg production farm is used as a model poultry farm for the Poultry Expertise Centre, Eggs had a string of alphanumeric coding on them.
In this farm, one Egg had on it; 2-NL-4181402.
2- The first digit (0 to 3) of the imprint stands for the type of farming of the laying hens
NL- The following letters (in this case NL) is the code for the country of origin for the eggs
41- The following two numbers give information on the county of the laying farm
8140- The next 4 digits represent the farm number and;
2- The last digit is the stable number of the laying farm
With this system, eggs produced not just in the Netherlands, but in Europe as a whole, can be traced back to the actual stable, within the farm (big or small) where it was produced. Adopting a method like this in Nigeria will bring considerable quality and standardisation, as poultry farms will have their identity (and reputation) attached to every piece of egg coming from their farm.
Beyond poultry, it could precipitate a wider change in quality compliance, with agricultural produce getting identification which can make them traceable in the events standards or quality are found wanting.
Noorlander, during a tour of his farm where he has 100,000 layer birds, during the Dutch Roots/IFAJ congress last month, explained that this system makes it easy to know when birds in any barn are producing eggs with any form of defect or quality issues. But, in a case where the eggs are packed from thousands of birds, spread across different barns/pens, without an identification system, quality control becomes almost impossible to achieve.