Daily Trust

Why Nigeria agro exporters need conformity assessment, certification – MD NIcert

Nicert Limited, a Nigerian conformity assessment and certification body, operating in a technical partnership with Ecocert group of France for conformity assessment and certification activities in Nigeria, has given reasons why Nigerian goods are rejected abroad.

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 The managing director of the company, Ms Annabel Kamuche, stressed that conformity assessment and certification was necessary for the country agro exporters to gain acceptability in the international markets.

Ms Kamuche said it involves sampling, inspection, testing and certification as a means of giving assurance to the parties of a transaction that the product, process, system, body or person does in fact conform to the requirements of a standard.

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She, however, explained that their work was different from what Quarantine Service, SON and NAFDAC do.

“We are currently operating under ECOCERT’s ISO, CONFRAC, NOP, EU, JAZ, Fairtrade, Global GAP, COSMOS, IFS and other accreditations to assess and certify goods that are destined for Europe, US, Japan and other markets that operate the same or equivalent standards.

“You will notice that SON, which is the representative of the International Standards Organization (ISO) in Nigeria, is not accredited to provide the kind of assessment and certification we can provide and not for the international markets that rely on our certification as proof of conformity by Nigerian products to their standards.

“Our view is that SON’s assessment and certification is more important for the Nigerian market. In other words, the markets we certify products for will not accept SON certification as proof of conformity to their standards.

The NIcert MD said NAFDAC was not accredited to assess or certify for any international standard and should be focused on improving its capacity to enforce its own statutory food and drug safety rules for the Nigerian market.

“We are particularly concerned about the difficulties Nigerian exporters face at every turn in this country. Exportation through our ports is already cumbersome beyond permissible limits and sometimes these exporters have limited time to meet orders or their goods have limited shelf lives and not all products can be exported by air.

 “It is unfair and unnecessary that after Nigerian exporters have met the standards of the target market, our own local agencies that should be focused on the Nigerian standard and market now set up more hurdles for exporters, which are not required by the target market and therefore add no value to the already certified products,” she stressed.

Although, she does not underrate the importance of local agencies, like SON, NAFDAC and the Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine services to international trade, she note, that “What we are saying is that their role should be limited to developing a local culture amongst Nigerian producers in accordance with internationally recognized standards whether they are producing for export or the local market.

“The Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine service is expected to play this role by reason of the sanitary phytosanitary requirements of the international treaties and measures that apply to them.

“They are meant to serve the pest infestation prevention and control requirements of countries importing Nigerian agricultural goods, which are parties to the Technical Barriers to Trade, Sanitary Phytosanitary measures of the World Trade Organization (WTO). However, some Nigerian exporters have reported that certification, from our quarantine services, is still being second-guessed in some jurisdictions,” Ms Kamuche added

She said they want to work with NEPC, SON, NAFDAC and the Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine services to reduce the hoops exporters have to overcome and to further encourage exportation of Nigerian goods.