How Farmers can Avoid Food Rejection
Agro commodity farmers have been sensitised on what to do to ensure that agricultural commodities leaving the shores of the country are accepted at the international market.
The farmers who deal with cocoa, cassava, yam, leafy vegetables, sesame seeds, tomatoes and palm oil, among others were sensitised at a programme organised by the Nigerian Stored Products Research Institute (NSPRI), and the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) in Port Harcourt.
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At the meeting emphasis was on planting, storage and preservation good practices, according to CODEX
Dr Hadiza Abba Babagana of the National Cereals Research Institute (NCRI) Badeggi, Niger State, while speaking on sesame, said to avoid rejection of its export the seed to be planted should be disease-free and dressed with apron star or apron plus to reduce the incidence of seed-borne diseases.
She said that insect pest problems are often common and spraying is necessary if serious damage is noticed at flowering and capsule formation, that Cypermethrine (cymbush) and karate at 1l/ha is to be applied.
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“Sesame is usually mature for harvesting between 90 and 130 days after planting and harvesting should be done when many leaves have dropped off and the remaining ones have turned yellow and the lowest capsule on the stem has turned from green to yellow,” Babagana said.
She added that drying of about two-three more days under direct sunlight is required to avoid spoilage, and clean seeds should be bagged immediately after threshing, winnowing and drying.
Dr Aroyeun Olusegun, Director Value Addition Research Programme, Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN), Ibadan, Oyo State, while speaking on best production practices in the export of cocoa, said according to the ICO, characteristics of exportable cocoa beans of merchant quality must be thoroughly dry, free from smoky beans, free from abnormal or foreign odor, free from any evidence of adulteration, reasonably uniform in size, reasonably free from broken beans, fragments and pieces of shell, and be virtually free from foreign matter.
He warned farmers never to harvest unripe fruits and avoid cutting/ wounding of the cocoa pods, and advised them to harvest with specific techniques and tools, use clean and sharpened tools regularly, separate diseased pods from healthy pods right in the field and fermentation should be between five and seven days.
According to Olusegun Awolowo, Director-General of NEPC, who was represented by Moruff Salami, Deputy Director, Product Development, NEPC, “We gather here today not because of anything, but because of some issues, some challenges facing some of the selected products coming from this zone.
“You are all aware that Nigerian agricultural products are facing challenges overseas, the reason is that some of our products lack quality and standards and this makes it difficult to penetrate international markets.”
Dr Folorunsho Olayemi, Director of Research Operations (NSPRI), advised the stakeholders, particularly the regulators, to be cooperative even while fulfilling their mandates.
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