With the expectations of the much talked about African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement to commence on January 1, 2021, food experts have advised the Federal Government to put in place proper measures to check free movement of food products from neighbouring countries.
They emphasised that food safety was critical to Nigeria’s agric export at this period of COVID-19 as the Federal Government targets more revenue from the country’s non-oil export sector.
Speaking in Lagos recently, Managing Director of HACCP Food Safety Academy, Nigeria, Mrs. Adetundun Esther Marsh, said that without proper food safety measures in place in the country, the food industry and other establishments would face daunting challenges during Af- CFTA’s take-off.
Mrs. Marsh explained that there was need to place high standard and value on food regulations and certification in the country since food begins from the farm to the mouth with the establishment of more structures. She said: “We congratulate Governor Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu on this very great day because food safety is very important, because without adequate food safety in Nigeria or Lagos State in view, we can do nothing. All our foods and our establishments are going to be in rumbles.
“But today, we once again appreciate HACCP Academy Nigeria for celebrating these food regulators graduating from the academy today. When we look back at the past of what is happening in our food sector in Nigeria from the farms we believe food begins from the farm to the mouth. When we look at this food chains we see that we need more structures in place,” Marsh added.
Another food expert, Adesola Adekoya, while delivering a speech titled: ‘ HACCP- Food Safety. Government and Private Partnership,’ said that it was time for key food regulators to key into AfCFTA by ensuring food safety in the country for the betterment of Nigeria’s economy. He said: “From January 1, 2021, Nigeria borders will become part of AfCFTA.
What that simply mean is that products coming out from neighbouring countries like Ghana, Benin Republic and others can freely come into Nigeria. Now, how will Nigerian businesses fair based on our types of regulations?
“As you graduands go into the society to perform your duties think about how we can bring Nigeria’s regulations at per with other countries like South Africa, Ghana and also think about safety first not just about regulations. “Our focus should be about safety not just about regulations. And when you think about the safety also think about the processes.
Think about the result too of the processes from the government’s angle.” Speaking further on the declining value of naira, Adekoya said: “As a country we keep talking about the value of the naira on the low side and where we want to be. Guess what, we need to export and quality standards and proper certications need to go into our food processing in Nigeria.
We need some particular standards for us to be able to export and save our naira from further falling against the dollar. Until then our foods cannot make it in this country.”