Chief Technical Adviser, United Nations Industrial Development Organizations (UNIDO), Dr. Shaukat Malik, has called on the Federal Government to train farmers and product exporters on quality management for standards.
Malik who spoke in Lagos at a media briefing towards the Nigeria National Quality Awards, urged government to should partner with export-focused associations and export-oriented producers, for products exports and market education.
The government in 2016, set up a committee to ensure consistent and stringent quality management for all exportable products.
The committee was expected to work under the technical guidance of (UNIDO).
It was also to develop the code of practice and Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for production and processing of selected products.
According to Malik, public officeholders drive the people to produce for exports, but less was done to let them know what it takes to produce for export.
“In agric sector for instance, most Nigerians can embark on food subsidy farming, but not export farming because they are two different methods.
“Export business is not a general contractor’s kind of business, but a professional business that thrives on honesty,’’ he said.
He said the starting point should be, when commodities produce inspectors are trained and they have platforms to train others.
“Where trained inspectors stay in their agencies waiting for ill-informed producers to produce whatever they can and go to pay the inspectors to inspect, there is no future,’’ he said.
The commodities inspector are to ensure that health and safety standards and laws are upheld by any business or operation that processes or produces food.
Their duties involve the collection of samples for testing, monitoring food quality, inspecting the sanitation of a facility, and writing thorough reports, to document their findings.
He identified another challenge as quality, which has to do with high-level infrastructure.
Malik said the country might have produce inspectors without proper quality infrastructure.
“We still depend on foreign labs to test most of our products because standards agencies in Nigeria do not like to collaborate and establish risk analysis centres as one-stop test centres.
“Note that export is a buyer’s market; so, they will always tell which lab test they can accept,’’ he said.
He said with this strategy, Nigeria would have an export business plan to work with.
“ That is to say, let the agric sector, manufacturing sector and others in public and private sectors, bring their ideas onto the pool, to have the real national export strategy with realistic and funded milestones,’’ he said.