Most Nigerian agric products suffer in the international market due to very low level of certification from the relevant international certification agencies. Most other countries use strategies such as group certification to get included and push their farm produce across markets.
At an export seminar in Port Harcourt recently organised by the Nigerian Export Promotions Council (NEPC) led in the South-South by Joe Itah, the mechanism for group certification was explained.
A consultant who helps farmers asked to know what the NEPC and partners could do to help Nigerian farm produce exporters in that direction. His name is Monia Lulu Briggs PhD. He is also an environmentalist and entrepreneur.
He has collaboration with NEPC and they are pushing on orientation to give information about NEPC and export strategies to farmers. This is to create business advantage and certain programmes which have origin from the South-South and Rivers State. This is to see how they can get economic advantage and diversify the economy and not to keep on focusing on oil all the time.
They also work with the Federal Institute of Industrial Research Oshodi (FIIRO) and the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies (NICET).
The major fallout of the seminar was group certification. The understanding was though group certification is needed, there is the part the SMEs will play. Briggs said: You do not expect them to work for group certification for you when you have not met the minimum standards. What they are saying is that they create the enabling environment, and you the SME must do your part. You must up your game and it will then be easy for them to facilitate it.
“They can aim to get us to the levels of China and Indonesia for our economy to grow. Group certification has a process: I am involved in sesame seed cluster. We are developing 100 hectares of it. Now, all the members of the cluster will up their game and ensure that you produce at a particular quality. If you do so, you can then hand it over to the cluster that has the certification.
“If you want to do cashew nut, they will do same and get a certification. A member must be sure that his product is up to that standard. That is the only way that certification can apply to you, else, they cannot apply it to your product. That is what the experts are trying to explain.
“As a group, we export. Our sesame seed farm is in Edo State and we are developing 100 hectares. By end of 2021, we should achieve over 70 hectares.”