The Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS) and relevant stakeholders have called for more collaboration with federal and states government to develop and adopt policies and strategies towards improving agricultural export which is targeted at earning foreign exchange, improving the sector and above all diversifying the economy from oil to non-oil export.
The call came recently at the National Council on Agriculture and Rural Development (NCARD), where stakeholders both from the private and public sectors shared their views, strategies and policy frameworks for consideration and adoption.
LEADERSHIP reports that the just concluded NCARD provided platform for states and the federal government to deliberate on issues concerning the agricultural sector, formulate, adopt policies and strategies to move the sector forward.
The director general of NAQS, Dr Vincent Isegbe, who explained that the Service is aimed at drawing the attention of the public and stakeholders on the need to collaborate and ensure that export standards were followed, said NAQS in recent past has played significant role in the exportation of vegetables, Hibiscus and other agricultural products which earned farmers and exporters forex.
He said: “We are here in furtherance of our mandate to ensure that we preparing more commodities for export and we draw the attention of the general public and stakeholders to the need to follow the export standards and ensure they meet all the Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) protocols of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) so that when we export we won’t have issues of rejection, that why we are he to collaborate with other agencies of government, the private sectors and the individuals with whom we work with to ensure that there is seamless agricultural export.
“ The issue of multiple taxation on the highway has been an issue both the state governments and the federal government have been meeting to see how they could develop a harmonized tax system.
Multiple taxation slows down exportation processes as products for export are been stopped on the highway at various checkpoints for inspection and taxation, thereby exposing the products to some unhygienic practices which could contaminate them (agricultural products).’’
Dr Isegbe however expressed hope that the issue of multiple taxation on the highway would be resolved at the Council. He said though some states have addressed the issue, but some other states are still generating revenue from tax on agricultural products.
“The issue of multiple taxation on the roads have been on the top burner we have discussed, we have written memos to almost all the state governments, the Minister of Agriculture has written letters individually to state governments. There is even the Inspector General of the Police Committee on containing cattle rustling that has to do with the seamless movement if animals, and in that Committee we do the review of the charges that are due to be paid for quarantine services and others.
“Though we have a major challenge with some state governments, they have commissioned consultants, and we say those consultants are not supposed to be on the federal highway, the consultants can operate on any state road of local government road within the state, but on the highway, the law does not permit that, and the joint tax board are aware of that, individual state governments are aware. So, it is something that we are collaborating with States, some are cooperating, some are yet to fully cooperate, that’s where we are but we are making major progress”, he said.
While speaking at the opening ceremony, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Mohammed Umar said the ministry, Commissioners of Agriculture in all the states of the federation, other stakeholders in Agriculture sector and partners would meet to assess the effect of extant policies and strategies, and fine-tune the existing initiatives for the attainment of food security in the country.
Umar who was represented by the director, Federal Department of Agriculture, Dr. Batamous Babandi, further said that with the prevailing framework of the 2016 Green Alternative (Agricultural Promotion Policy), government’s focus is to use the themes of “Productivity Enhancement’’, “Private Investment’’ and “Institutional Realignment” to develop agriculture in the country.
According to him, the Ministry is implementing the policy by promoting research applications, reviving extension services, easing input access, facilitating affordable credits, increasing commodity output, enhancing processing capacity, broadening market access and expanding revenue earnings.
He assured that government is committed to the provision of incentives to farmers to increase the output and quality of agricultural commodities to exceed national requirements, adding that the Ministry has strengthened the Growth Enhancement Support Scheme by validating farmers’ biometric registration, using tablets for redemption, clustering farmers into commodity value chains and providing minimum input package to farmers.
He said, “Notwithstanding the Ministry’s efforts of assisting small scale farmers with machinery hiring scheme, government has also made arrangement with certain agricultural machinery manufacturers towards the establishment of related assembly plant in the country to locally produce farm machinery that can withstand the varying geographical terrain and climate conditions of the country.’’
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