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Cowpea: Nigeria to come out of EU ban in 2021

The National President of the association, Shittu Mohammed, disclosed this to PREMIUM TIMES in Abuja on Monday.

Cowpea is a leguminous crop grown in Nigeria, mainly dried and stored for local consumption. it is also traded and exported to various countries around the world, especially the European Union.

In January 2013, the European Union (EU) placed a temporary suspension of imports of dried beans from Nigeria for one year.

The ban was over the excessive use of chemicals by Nigerian farmers to control a pest, Maruca vitrata, from damaging crops on the field. Farmers were also found to be excessively using chemicals and pesticides in preservation of beans, without regards to human health.

However, again in mid-2015, the EU suspended the export of selected Nigerian agricultural produce into their member countries.

The details are outlined in the EU regulation 2015/943 as amended by Regulation 2016/874.

The ban was extended by three years from the June 2016 deadline due to the observation of non-compliances to pesticides and other chemicals minimum acceptable residue level of 0.01mg/kg.

It was discovered that Nigerian dried beans still contained high pesticide residues considered dangerous to human health.

Mr Mohammed said the ban will end by 2021. Ahead of that date, he said the association was already putting measures in place to raise the capacity of farmers in best agronomic practices.

“We are trying to get silo from the government for the 36 states, where we can store our beans. We are also working at setting up laboratories in the states where the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) can test the beans before export. This is to ensure that no beans go out of the country without properly been tested,” Mr Mohammed said.

“We are also working to put farmers in clusters to enable them get proper training and access to mechanisation, inputs, improved varieties and all that they need to increase production,” he said.

Mr Mohammed explained that the EU ban extension was as a result of farmers excessively using chemicals and pesticides for the preservation of beans without regards to human health, a problem which he said is now being dealt with by the association.

“You see, the ban was because our farmers were using excess chemicals and pesticides on their dried beans without thinking of the effects on human health’’.

He said the association was also trying to ensure that beans are included among produce on the Federal Government and Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) Anchor Borrowers Programme.

He said the inclusion of the commodity would benefit over 14,000 beans farmers across the nation during the 2020 planting season.

He added that with the current production rate of three million metric tonnes annually, in no time Nigeria will bridge the 1.5 million metric tonnes gaps in local demands if more support is given to farmers.

He urged the government to address the issues of funding and accessibility to market, which he said is responsible for the application of chemicals to preserve the harvests before the sale. He said infrastructural decay is also a major challenge to farming in Nigeria generally, which he said is detering higher productivity.

Mr Mohammed also mentioned preservation, insurgency and insecurity as major problems the farmers are faced with, saying that most farmers have stopped going to the farm due to the lack of access roads and insecurity.

“Our farmers are now scared of going to their farmlands because of insecurity,” he said.

“Government effort is not forthcoming, most of their efforts is just paperwork, nothing gets to the practical farmers.”

He urged the government to take practical measures to kick start the exportation of Nigerian beans across the globe.