The National Institute of Food Science and Technology (NIFST) has called for increased government regulation on safety and quality of foods consumed in Nigeria to prevent diseases.
The members of the institute and stakeholders made the appeal during a food roundtable with the theme: “National Food Quality Management: On-Farm Prospects and Challenges”.
The meeting was organised by the institute on Wednesday in Abuja.
Mrs. Vera Eze, Chairperson, Abuja chapter of the institute, said the meeting was an opportunity to discuss burning issues affecting farms and their produce.
She said that poor storage and handling of food had created problems for Nigerian farmers and potential exporters of food.
“The food roundtable is an opportunity for us to discuss extensively on the burning issues that affect our farms and their produce.
“How are our farm produce handled?
“We have the issue of the European Union (EU) not allowing the export of our brown beans into their countries because of dichlorvos pesticides, recent sniper use on beans storage and other unwholesome practices.
“People are dying due to contaminated food, because they use bags of chemicals that are not properly disposed on the farms, they use wrong chemicals to kill weeds or using faeces as manure on vegetables,’’ she said.
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Eze, a food scientist and Deputy Director with the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), decried the idea of ripening fruits with carbide, and improper display and transportation of farm produce.
She urged Nigerian farmers to key into the Global Good Agricultural Practice, while calling on regulatory bodies to effectively audit food producers to ensure good manufacturing practices.
“The aim of today’s discussion is for organisations handling our farms and their produce to tell us what they are doing to ensure that our farms and our produce are safe.
“You will agree with me that fears of eating certain foods will be allayed once the recommendations we shall proffer here are implemented,” she said.
The NIFST chairperson assured that a committee would be constituted to follow up on implementation of recommendations from the roundtable.
Mrs. Rosemary Uche, a Superintendent at the Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS), said that quality food referred to wholesome foods from field to fork.
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She said that NAQS had the mandate to ensure that food consumed in the country are safe and wholesome, and advised farmers to always use appropriate seedlings and desist from wrong application of pesticides.
Mr Ude Ekele from the Agricultural Development Project (ADP), Federal Capital Territory, said that the project had taken practical steps to ensure that foods consumed in the territory are safe.
“We educate our farmers on how to use and manage pests; they should not abuse pesticides and they should not use overdose.
“We train them on safe farming methods like organic farming, where they will not need pesticides.
“When pesticides are applied, such crops should not be harvested less than 14 days after such application,’’ Ekele warned.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that other stakeholders at the roundtable were the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission. (NAN)