Deployment of cutting-edge Agricultural technology will boost the quality of Nigerian produce and therefore ensure that the country meets the requisite standard for exports – words of the Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer of Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Mr Olusegun Awolowo.
Mr Awolowo who disclosed this at the launch of a prototype dryer machine in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State, said that the Federal Government in the bid to find a lasting solution to the incidences of food rejects by the European Union (EU) recently instituted an Inter-Agency Committee on Zero Reject Policy spearheaded by NEPC in collaboration with some Ministries, Departments & Agencies (MDAs).
It is against this background, he noted that the Council in collaboration with a Private firm – Olu Olu Industries Limited launched the prototype machine to address the recent EU ban on some food items due to quality issues.
Mr Awolowo who was represented by Mrs Veronica Oriere Deputy Director National Export Office Department, reiterated Government’s desire to improve the quality of Nigeria produce for export.
According to Oriere, the demonstration workshop which has been done in two other locations (Ibadan and Katsina) would “address problems associated with age-long ‘sun-drying’ method for produce reservation through introduction of ‘on-point’ drying practice which prevents aflotoxin infection, makes post-harvest handling less cumbersome thereby reducing incidences of wastage”.
She encouraged stakeholders with interest in enhancing Nigeria’s Agro-products standards: NGOs, Development Partners, Politicians, Philanthropies, Agro-investors among others to invest in acquisition of the new produce dryers for distribution to farmers, as a means of economic empowerment.
Managing Director of Olu Olu Industries Limited Engr. Olu Aiyegbusi noted that “bringing an innovation of this nature to the fore could not have come at a better time as there is enormous pressure on Government to reposition our ailing economy through activities of the non-oil sector”.
The Council recalls that farmers have had to sun-dry produce meant for exports, a practice that came with various quality challenges including aflatoxin infection, high cost of processing due to epileptic energy among others. All these led to rejects competitiveness challenges and inability to produce enough to meet international demands.