The government of India has indicated interest in Nigerian farmers to export pigeon pea worth $100 billion to the nation, National Coordinating Director, Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS), Dr. Vincent Isegbe has said.
Isegbe said the Federal Government got the offer after conducting its Pest Crop Survey (PCS) for some agriculture commodity in conjunction with the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and eventually got the offer from India.
The NAQS coordinator disclosed this during an interview, in Abuja, adding that essence of the crop survey was to determine the kind of pest that affects a particular local agricultural commodity and proffer a solution to boost agriculture.
Isegbe said: “We do what we call PCS. We have done for pineapple, sugar, rice, cashew, palm oil and of recent we did for the pigeon pea. We wanted to know the pest peculiar to some commodities, what extent and in what location nationwide so we keep data on them.
“The government of India wanted a confirmation that we can export a pest-free pigeon pea to their country and even if we have pests, they will want to know which pest, to what extent and their location. That was the report that our group of scientists worked on. They eventually sent it to the government of India and they that saw that it was okay for them to import. That is why they said we have a market worth $100 million and we can export.”
Describing the offer as a new opportunity to boost foreign exchange for the nation and create jobs, he added that the NAQS was already working with the pigeon pea value chain to meet demands of the Indian government.
According to him, as member of the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC), the NAQS is responsible to stop the spread and prevention of pests including diseases and contaminants into and outside the country.
He said the Service at its 56 stations across the country works in partnership with the Nigeria Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) and airport officials to prevent foreign birds from entering the country.
Speaking on bird flu invasion, Isegbe described the virus as a disease that could be transferred through infections, migrating birds and other forms of contaminations.
He said the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, on daily basis conducts surveillance on the Avian Influenza (AI) virus and provides notices on status of AI in the country.
Reacting to reasons farmers still fall victim to the AI infection, he explained that the virus was already in the country since its first outbreak in 2006.
“It is the duty of Nigeria to ensure that new variant of bird flu did not come into the country since it came in between 2006 and 2008. The second wave of AI came in through migratory birds and we have wetlands. So as they pass their wastes into the water, ducks which serve principally as carriers hardly get infected but they spread the pathogen home and infect the local stocks.”
However, he called for more sensitization of farmers to reduce further spread of the virus, stressing that sources of the virus are numerous.
He emphasized that once a nation is declared free, there should be consistent effort to prevent a re-occurrence.
News Credit: The Nation Newspaper