Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mohammed Mahmood, announced that Nigeria loses 50 per cent of its annual crop production to the damages of pests.
He stated this in Abuja at a press conference organised by the Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service to mark the International Day of Plant Health.
According to him, “We must take plant health seriously because plants are in constant danger of attack by viruses, bacteria, nematodes, insects, aphids and fungi.
“These plant health threats undermine food security and increase the vulnerability of livelihoods dependent on crop value chains.
“In Nigeria, we lose 50 per cent of our annual farm gate value to the damages of pests. They cause yield and quality losses, reduce food availability and increase food prices.”
He, however, stated that the government recognised the fact that safeguarding plant health was a national priority and that this led to the establishment the NAQS.
On his part, the Director-General, NAQS, Vincent Isegbe, said the agency would continue to maintain plant, animal and fish health to meet international standards.
He said many agricultural produce from Nigeria were being rejected by European countries because both the producer and the exporter fail to package their products to meet global requirements.
Isegbe said, “Nigeria is blessed with different agricultural produce and we can make money from them when we export them but there is the need to subject the goods to pre-requisite quarantine inspection and certification before dispatch.
“Other countries come to Nigeria and buy our agricultural produce such as ginger, garlic and so on. They go and repackage them, export them and make foreign exchange from these products.”
He said the NAQS was now working with stakeholders along the value chain to ensure that Nigeria’s agricultural products were not rejected when exported in order to support in shoring up the country’s foreign exchange earnings.