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Nigeria Aims to Regain Footing in Agricultural Exports with Focus on Quality Standards

Abuja, Nigeria – The World Trade Organization (WTO) is partnering with Nigeria to address challenges hindering the nation’s agricultural exports. Despite being a major producer of crops like cowpeas and sesame, Nigeria has faced increasing rejections in international markets due to non-compliance with sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) standards.

Loss of Export Potential and Rise in Imports

This issue, according to WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has resulted in Nigeria losing ground in agricultural exports and becoming a net importer of food products it could potentially produce domestically. The initiative aims to bridge this gap and unlock the potential of the agricultural sector as a driver of economic diversification and job creation.

Project to Enhance Sesame and Cowpea Exports

A $1.2 million project funded by the WTO’s Standards Trade Development Facility (STDF) will focus on building capacity within the sesame and cowpea value chains. Stakeholders will receive training on market access requirements, proper pesticide application, hygiene practices, and improved post-harvest handling techniques to ensure food safety.

Government Initiatives to Facilitate Trade

Nigeria’s Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment is also taking action. The ministry is implementing policies to streamline trade processes and remove bottlenecks. This includes a N50 billion Presidential Conditional Grant Scheme and a N150 billion intervention fund aimed at providing access to financing for businesses in the manufacturing and export sectors.

Long-Term Vision for Improved Standards

The Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) is collaborating with the WTO on this three-year project. The project, known as STDF 845, aims to establish good sanitary and phytosanitary practices, along with improved agricultural and warehousing procedures. This will enhance the quality and standards of Nigerian sesame and cowpeas, leading to greater global acceptance and increased export opportunities.

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