Executive Director and founder of Women in Agricultural Advancement and Sustainability Africa (WAASA), Chi Tola Roberts, has called on the Federal Government to review the several policies and monitor the activities of some of the food regulatory bodies in the country.
Roberts said these regulatory bodies are frustrating and stagnating agro value chain, stressing that food processing industry in Nigeria is increasingly now being seen as a potential source for driving the rural economy as it brings about synergy between the consumer, industry and agriculture.
She said a well developed, focused food processing industry is expected to increase farm gate prices, reduce wastages, ensure value addition, promote crop diversification, generate employment opportunities as well as export earnings.
“Yet, Small Processors are facing bottlenecks in obtaining necessary permits and or endorsement for their small Agro processed products.
“We are calling on the Federal Government to not only monitor the activities of these regulatory bodies but also review the regulatory policies to make it small processors friendly.
Speaking further she called for the need to include specifics and dedicated policies and special consideration for agriculture and its value chains.
She said this call has become imperative now as many small holder farmers who are willing to venture into agro processing are having difficulty getting regulatory permits.
“A small holder farmer who has decided to go into okra farming and processing, seeking to have a NAFDAC permit to process and package okra for distribution and sale in Nigeria should not be made to pay so much with extensive visits.
“Federal Government must review some of these requirements to accommodate small scale processors. Standards must be high but fees and procedures must be accommodating for us to really maximize the economic growth potentials in the agro value chain and evaluate the extent of the government’s efforts in supporting local food processors,” she added.
Speaking further, she said “Most of the sales outlets in Nigeria now are becoming aware of the need for products sold at their shops to be NAFDAC registered, but the question remains, how many of these small processors can afford the fees? Does processing of these farm harvests require all that is being asked for by the regulating body?
She, however, said that Nigerians are more health conscious than ever before and that they are worried about the content of their food, its origin, freshness, and safety.
“These consumers are increasingly concerned about the sustainability of food production and its impact on the environment,” she said.