The Federal Government has empowered the Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service to fully resume its export certification duties at all ports immediately.

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According to the Director-General, NAQS, Vincent Isegbe, the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation also issued a consequential whole-of-government directive instructing Ministries, Departments and Agencies as well as state governments to cooperate with the quarantine service agency.

This, he said, would enable a well-choreographed restoration of export traffic for the benefit of all Nigerians.

Isegbe revealed this in a statement issued in Abuja on Friday by the Head, Media, Communications and Strategies, NAQS, Gozie Nwodo.

The agency’s boss noted that based on this directive, the export of agricultural produce would pick up and gather pace.

The recent lockdown by the Federal Government that was announced as part of the strategy to contain the spread of Coronavirus caused a break in the agricultural value chain.

It made almost all states in Nigeria to implement one form of curfew or the other, coupled with the ban on interstate transportation, as well as institutional and logistical barricades that blocked human and vehicular movements.

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This situation made the passage of agricultural commodities from the remote production hotspots to the ports difficult.

To address the situation, Isegbe noted that the Federal Government had to grant the NAQS authorisation to allow agro-exports to begin again so as to free all functions related to agricultural export from any encumbrance.

He said the Nigeria Customs Service, the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company,  Skyway Aviation Handling Company, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, the Federal Road Safety Commission, the Vehicle Inspection Office, the Nigerian Police Force and other security agencies were now under obligation to work with NAQS to restart agricultural export.

Isegbe said producer and transit state governments were expected to grant the right to free passage to the consignments along corridors that had been mapped by NAQS under a best logistics-support arrangement.

He called on all relevant entities in the agricultural export environment to play their respective parts to foster the return of business to normal.

He noted that agricultural export accounts for the lion’s share of Nigeria’s non-oil export performance.

“Given the nosedive of crude prices, the spike of job losses in all continents and the slump of the global economy, it has never been more critical for Nigerian agricultural export to stand to its full height as one of the twin pillars of the Nigerian economy,” the DG stated.