BusinessDay

NAQS automate operations to boost service delivery

....seek to strengthen participation of micro, small, medium-scale players in agro-export

The Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS) has disclosed plans to launch its automation regime during first quarter of 2023.

Vincent Isegbe, director general of NAQS disclosed this at the 4th Comptroller general’s Summit and Management Retreat in Abuja.

According to the DG, automated process will equip the Agency to respond efficiently to the need of Nigerians, while providing evidence-led insight into service delivery, service users, and export/import traffic.

“In line with the Management’s vision to enhance the technological fluency of NAQS, we have provisioned the Agency to be fully automated. The software has been developed and deployed and some designated officers from all NAQS stations have been trained to understand how it works.

“In the first quarter of 2023, the automation regime will be launched. And NAQS will switch to the cutting-edge tools that its counterpart bodies in advanced countries use for inspection and certification.

“Officers are advised to note that the automated system will mark the end of the manual era and the beginning of a digital era. As soon as it comes onstream, certain underhanded practices will cease. There will no longer be room for shortchanging the government in receipting,” he said.

Speaking further, Isigbe noted that the Agency is obliged to lead the country’s quest to grow and develop its non-oil export sectors.

He explained that the Agency, in effort to democratize the participation of micro, small and medium-scale players in agro-export activities has launched the Export Improvement Initiative and Export Certification Value Chains.

“The diligence of many Nigerian farmers are not yielding desired returns as they remained confined to the low returns of the local market.

“In the farms and elsewhere, our people work hard. However, the majority of them based in rural and peri-urban areas are confined to the low returns of the local market.

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“Many of them are unaware of their right to access the ECOWAS and African Continental Free Trade Area markets. They know little or nothing about export standards. They don’t view themselves as qualified to export because they presume that it can only be attempted by the rich.

“We are working to overcome this challenge of ’the last mile’ by targeting grassroots farmers, offtakers and processors,” he said.

In her remark, Chioma Chudi-Anaukwu, assistant director, Standard Organisation of Nigeria, said that the organisation has set standards for various agriculyural produce, aimed at deepening regulatory activities.

“We are trying to make sure that all hands are on deck to ensure seamless trade across borders, especially our local produce which has been a problem for a while, due to rejection.

“So we are trying to find a way out, working with relevant stakeholders and the regulatory agencies. As an organisation, we have set standards for our local production.

“So it’s a matter of regulatory agencies, stakeholders embracing these standards. As member of the ISO, our standards as a nation aligns with the international standards. All we need now is for everyone involved in the entire value chain to embrace and act in accordance to the standards.

“Also, we are seeing cases where countries are bringing technical barriers to trade, so we are working to know the requirement of each country so that our exports meet their requirements,” she said.

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