Quarantine Service Attracts $100bn Pigeon Pea Export to India
…Emerges 2nd in PEBEC Ranking
The Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS) has attracted a $100 billion Pigeon Pea export to India following a successful crop pest survey conducted on emerging agro-export commodities including Sorghum and Ground-nuts.
Coordinating Director of the agency, Dr Vincent Isegbe disclosed this in an exclusive interview with Economic Confidential in Abuja.
Dr Isegbe said: “The Pigeon peas crop pest survey resulted in the confidence of India to place an order of One hundred billion Dollars (US$100 billion) worth of Pigeon pea import from Nigeria”.
Meanwhile, NAQS was placed 2nd as the most Improved among all the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) 2018 in the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) ranking of Nigeria’s agencies on efficiency in the Ease of Doing Business Report released in June 2018.
The highly elated Coordinating Director also placed on record that his agency also scored 4th national position on the PEBEC ranking on Transparency/ Operationalization plan and Efficiency index, of all MDAs, with an average score of 67.7% in 2017.
He noted with pleasure that NAQS (Establishment) Bill was assented to by President Buhari on 26th January, 2018, after a long and tedious effort, thereby vesting NAQS with the requisite powers and autonomy to carry out its mandate as a full-fledged agency of government.
He revealed that for the first time in the history of the agency, Sensitization Awareness of Farmers, sometimes in the deep hinterlands, for Army worm and Tuta absoluta pests and control measures in 5 languages, agro-chemical dealers and other stakeholders were carried out via television and Radio services
The effect of the awareness programme according to Dr Isegbe, is the current safe use of both field and storage pesticides across the nation, effect of Mycotoxin on agro-commodities, animal and human health; and trade, effect of contaminants such as pesticides residues, heavy metals, growth hormones, and the role of NAQS in agro-export.
He also said that following the awareness programme there have been massive and better structured communication with stakeholders and the general the public.
He also revealed to Economic Confidential that the rare feats of the agency could not have been possible if not for the development of in-house training modules to meet the current challenges of emerging and re-emerging pests and diseases of our agricultural economy.
Speaking on the funding challenges faced by the agency, Dr Isegbe said they were able to secure 915% increase in capital budgeting allocation to NAQS in 2017, apart from earning the “Most Innovative government agency award” in 2017 by Businessday Newspapers.
The Coordinating Director was also appointed into the Accreditation Advocacy Committee (AAC) of the Nigeria National Accreditation Service (NINAS) on 2018, in recognition of NAQS role in the Standardization of agro-commodities production and processes.
Among other things, Dr Isegbe told Economic Confidential of the creation of NAQS North Central Zone with Makurdi as the Zonal Headquarters covering Plateau, Nasarawa, Benue, FCT, Niger and Kwara.
The agency under his watch also created three Control Posts at Orokam, Riyom, Bade Saadu and reactivation of both Katsina-Ala and Gada Buki posts respectively.
Meanwhile, the agency has introduced a management strategy to identify Maize Lethal Necrosis disease, Cassava Brown Streak Disease and CYD in Nigeria, collaborating with IITA and other MDAs, said Dr Isegbe.
He also disclosed the setting up a comprehensive NAQS data center and appointing NAQS national data Officers Dr. Hamza T.A., MSc. Epidemiology/ Biostatistics, which commenced operation in second quarter of 2018.