The plan is still on, like we said earlier, we selected 10 commodities now, last year we did first 10 export certification value chain out of which we did the Improvement Initiative of 3, that is vegetable, Sesame, and Hibiscus, this time we are doing another 10, and from that 10 we will eventually choose about 4 or 5 to do the export improvement initiative, the essence of this is to focus on some commodities, bring out the highlights, areas where either the farmer or the exporter of the financial consultant will have an in-depth as to the profitability of going into the production and export of those commodities. Some of them are readily available in the country, but probably there is no organized market for it, by the time it is highlighted, you will see what the commodity stands in the world market production level, and if he has an organized structure, he can approach the Nexim Bank to look for facilities that will help him, Nexim Bank too have their conditions.
So all these opportunities that are available in the financial sector should be made accessible to the farmers to go into very serious business. An Army General has just established a farm and already he is doing the third export (vegetable) to the UK, so the market is limitless and Nigerians needs to know what they should do to be able to access those individual markets and it is our responsibility to expose them to the need for them to do these things properly, so that’s where we are, we are bringing in some unconventional agricultural commodities and we want to introduce them to those areas. And we my new appointment now, we have just created one additional zone in the South East to cover the South Eastern farmers, formally, they used to be under the South Zone, but we have aligned them with the 6 geopolitical zones in the country now, so that the specific needs of the farmers in the South East zone can be taken into a special consideration, we are aware also that the farmers in the South East have been doing a lot of export initiative especially Enugu and Anambra, so we want to be there to encourage them so that they do these things properly.
How are you managing the fact that vegetables being a perishable commodity gets to its destination in good shape?
That’s part of our job as Quarantine officers, we are there at the farm to even tell you how to farm the vegetables, what chemicals to apply, when to harvest based on your flight schedule, we tell you to have a packed farm within hour house which is like the dressing room on the farm. So vegetable is harvested, we tell you how to harvest them and how to put them in pack houses and how to treat them and we will also encourage you to get a cold van to Transport them from the farm to the airport so that the shelf life and the rate of wilting is reduced to the barest minimum, and we will let your shipping agent know the importance of putting these things in place, the airline, of course, know that they should have refrigerated cabins to carry the vegetable. So it is a chain that we maintain from the farmer who is producing through the transporter to either the warehouse manager or product handling companies to the airline operators and eventually to the destination, so each and every of those persons have been properly briefed by Quarantine to know what they should do, so for perishable products like vegetable, that’s what we do.
Some like snail could be in frozen State, the follow the same format that the handling companies should provide refrigeration, if it frozen, it has to be below zero degrees centigrade, but if it’s like vegetables, if you freeze vegetables, by the time you defrost it will wilt completely, so depending on the State we are carrying it will determine an advice on what temperature it should be carried so that it can get to the destination in good condition. So all the vegetables from Abuja have been entering U.K. in good conditions.