By Isaac Anumihe
The Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Services (NAQS) has warned importers and shippers against importing deadly pests and diseases that can harm the nation’s agricultural produce.
While urging importers to always seek permit before importing plant, aquatic and animal products into the country, the Coordinating Director of NAQS, Vincent Isegbe, said the sole objective of NAQS is to prevent the introduction, establishment and spread of exotic pests and diseases of all agricultural products in the international trade.
Speaking at a stakeholders’ meeting organised for importers, exporters and clearing agents by the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) yesterday, Isegbe also advised importers and shippers to always seek certification before importing their products in pallets.
“Importers and exporters need to always play by the rules in other to preserve and safeguard the nation’s agricultural produce. There are insects that are in wood pallets; we want to know which country you are taking them from so we need to do risk analysis. If you want to import anything that has to do with wood pallets, come to our office for proper advice,” he said, disclosing that the service is mandated to safeguard the country to prevent importers from innocently importing pests into the country in the course of doing business.
He also disclosed that the service must ensure that consignments going out of the country meet international standard.
“We have the common goal of moving goods from Nigeria safely to other parts of the world. We have to comply with World Trade Organisation (WTO) so that the goods will be accepted wherever they are to be delivered,” he said.
Isegbe said there was nothing as meaningful as having a discussion like this even as he maintained that it will help to clear the air where there are doubts.
According to him, the essence of the gathering was to have a common goal, which is carrying commodities in and out of the country.
“For Nigeria to abide by the international best practices in trade, there must be someone to package the goods and export them. There must be someone to receive the exported goods. That is why government has agencies that will handle the interface. There are also agencies that will come in when the interface has issues. We are working for the collective enhancement of trade in Nigeria and we are duty-bound to protect the interest of the country,” he said.
Isegbe also noted that palletised commodities, irrespective of what is inside, are supposed to pass through the agencies for proper scrutiny.
Earlier, the Executive Secretary of NSC, Hassan Bello, said the council has viewed diversification as its cardinal point because “we need to think exportation instead of importation.”
He said that it is important for regulators and stakeholders to always come together to find lasting solution to challenges.
“We have received observations and comments from shippers, importers and exporters concerning the services of NAQS, so we decided to bring everybody together for a talk. We feel there is miscommunication somewhere and there is need for everyone to come together and dialogue,” he said.
According to him, Shippers Council holds the diversification agenda of the government very high.
“In the ease of doing business agenda by the government, all the agencies are now servants and are there to attend to people. We are sensitising stakeholders about that. There are a lot of infringements in exportation and importation and there will be more meetings like this,” he noted.