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ISO Certification to save N3.5trn post-harvest losses in agric sector — FG

The Federal Government, Thursday, disclosed that the International Standard Organization, ISO, Certification will save N3.5 trillion post-harvest losses annually in Agric sector.

This was stated by the Minister of State, Mustapha Shehuri, while receiving the ISO Certificate presented by the Executive Director of Nigerian Stored Products Research Institute, NSPRI, Dr Patricia Pessu, at the Ministry’s headquarters in Abuja.

According to Shehuri in his address, said the post-harvest losses has been a serious threat to food security in Nigeria, which less attention has be given to it to tackle the menace,

He also stated that the laboratory has all it takes to maintain its technical competence for all its research activities.

He described the accreditation Certificate as a rare feat that is achieved through the commitment of all staff under the leadership of the current Executive Director, Dr Patricia Pessu.

The ISO Certification is to deal with rejection of agricultural Commodities abroad, and usher in the long awaited zero-reject of agricultural produce from Nigeria.

He said: “Post-Harvest Losses is a worrisome situation that threatens the Food Security.  In fruits and vegetables, it could be as high as 50 – 60% if poorly managed, unfortunately not much attention is paid to address this problem as much as it is done for Production.

“The economic cost of post-harvest losses as reported by our partner, Action Aid that indicateD that N3.5 trillion is lost annually due to Post harvest losses. This has a negative effect on Agricultural component Domestic Product (GDP).

“The Nigerian Stored Products Research Institute (NSPRI) is set to address the challenge through acquisition of enabling infrastructure, tools, equipment and commitment of the Research staff.

“The Laboratory of NSPRI that has just been accredited is a testimony to hard work and the determination  of the Institute to be among the best Research Institute in the Sub-Sahara Africa.

“ISO/IEC 17025 that is being received today will be useful for various testing procedures, sampling, and calibration to instIll confidence in the Research output.

“This  ISO 1705 accreditation is a proof that the Ministry now has  a Laboratory that  is acceptable for quality management system in place with the ability and competence to provide testing and calibration results.” 

However, the Minister clearly stated that, “Let me also remind you that this accreditation is not life and could be withdrawn for any stretch of sub-standard practice, hence the Institute must sustain, maintain, and improve on the service delivery.

“The Federal Ministry of Agriculture will continue to support and ensure that this  Institute and indeed other Research Institute are regularly funded to execute their mandates.

Meanwhile, he appreciated the Nigeria Standard Organization, NSO,  and International Standard Organization, ISO, for deeming it fit to accredit the laboratory.

Earlier,  speaking, the Executive Director, NSPRI, Dr Patricia Pessu, disclosed that the approval of International Standard Organization, ISO, Certification, will boost food export from Nigeria to other parts of the world while presenting the ISO Accreditation Certificate to Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Mustapha Shehuri.

Pessu in her address said the institute was established by the British for certifying agro products exported to Britain, but later after independence was abandoned and lacked government’s attention, which also widely affected agricultural exports.

She said: “With improvedfunding over the last four years, the institute embarked on the rehabilitation of laboratories and started the International Standard Organization (ISO) accreditation process about three years ago.

“The process involved upgrade of laboratory facilities, procurement of equipment standard grade chemicals, training of personnel in the various scopes and assessment by the Nigerian National Accreditation System (NiNas).

“The Institute’s team of analysts did creditably well in all these and passed the prescribed tests. Today we are here to share the joy of the accreditation of our laboratory at the headquarters, Ilorin as an ISO certified laboratory (ISO 17025:2017).

“This is a great feat for NSPRI because we can now boast of a laboratory where analysis can be done with quality assurance (credible, reproducible, robust, and globally accepted results).

“The immediate gain of this certification is that NSPRI can now be reconned with as an institution contributing to food quality and safety in Nigeria.

“The institute is now on the global map of food analysis which will further increase our reach and impact.

“Also local food exporters will also face fewer challenges at the Nigerian ports with proving the quality of their food exports as NSPRI’s food quality certification is globally-recognized.

“In addition, food exports from Nigeria which are certified to have successfully passed NSPRI’s quality assurance tests, will face less risks of rejection in global export markets.”

While acknowledging efforts of the Minister of Agriculture, the Minister of State for Agriculture, Executive Secretary, Agriculture Research Council of Nigeria, ARCN, Prof Garba Sharabutu, she (Pessu) assured that the institute is still working to ensure all its laboratories across the country are functional for the enormous task ahead as far as the ISO Accreditation Certificate approval is concerned.

“Please be assured that we are not resting on our oars. Following the accreditation of the Ilorin Laboratory, we have since commenced the accreditation process of our Laboratories in Lagos, Kano and Port Harcourt zonal offices.

“With this we seek to ensure that farmers and agripreneurs can access our Laboratories and services with increasing convenience, regardless of wherever they are located in the country”, she added.

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