Director-General, Standards Organisation of Nigeria, SON, Dr. Joseph Odumodu, has reiterated the need for the Federal Government to develop packaging expertise for the nation’s agricultural produce as well as enact a clear policy on export.
The move, according to the SON’s DG, will help minimise the risk of rejection of Nigeria’s products abroad.
Odumodu, who made the call at a meeting with the Managing Director, Programme Development and Technical Cooperation Division, United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), Philippe Scholtesin, stated that developing expertise for packaging of the nation’s food products would not only enhance their economic value, but also guarantee availability all-year-round.
According to him, the export policy must stipulate that no product must leave the shore of the land without certification from the relevant agencies. While soliciting the assistance of UNIDO, Odumodu stated that there was a lot UNIDO could do for the country in the area of agro business and job creation, especially in the areas of food system and nutrition.
“One challenge we have in Nigeria is not in growing agricultural products, but we need a lot of knowledge on how to package them so that they can last longer. “Nigeria has a lot of tomatoes, mangos, but they are seasonal. Once the seasons are over, the prices go up. We need to learn the technology around how to keep them.
We like to request UNIDO to bring this kind of expertise,” he said. On the incessant rejection of Nigeria’s products abroad, Odumodu urged the government to give specific direction on export, especially for agricultural commodities.
The SON boss, however, explained that the focus of government in the next two years was to improve the nation’s investment climate, declaring that the current position of Nigeria in the ease of doing business was unacceptable. He said for Nigeria’s economy to come back to life and begin to flourish again, strategies must be geared towards reviving the manufacturing sector as well as checking the influx of inferior goods into the country.
“Nigeria has gone through a cynical system. There used to be flourishing industry. There were manufacturing activities in all aspects of our economy. But in the last 20 years, we saw a gradual decline in activities in the industry.
“Two major reasons are responsible for this, the business environment and the influx of inferior goods into the country. “For instance, Nigeria is currently in 169 position out of 289 countries on the ease of doing business ranking. That is not good enough. Our target within the next two years is to achieve less than 70 position. Some countries in Africa are already in that level. We need to learn from those countries that have done it so that we can know what we need to do to find ourselves in that position. “Once that is archived, the level of investment will go up.
Secondly, the influxes of products which are of questionable integrity, especially from Asian countries, are also sources of concerns. “As the President of the Africa Regional Standard Group, we also see that almost all other countries in Africa have the same problem and that is seriously affecting industrialisation in Africa,” he added. Earlier, the UNIDO boss promised to continue to collaborate with Nigeria, particularly SON with a view to ensuring that goods produced in the country meet pre-established international standards.
According to Scholtes, Nigerian industrialists do not only need the expertise to produce for foreign consumption, they must also explore the same capacity to meet local needs. On the way out for Nigeria at this time of falling oil price, he noted,”in the post-oil economy, a lot more emphasis should be placed on the multi product type of activities and that include, the agriculture sector. “At the moment, the industrial sector, the agricultural sector, the agro-processing sector, is very relevant. Manufacturing sector is still having a low share of the GDP and the potential is enormous.”

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