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April 14, 2024

WTO Inaugurates $1.2m Project to Improve Quality of Nigeria’s Agro Export

The World Trade Organization (WTO) has launched a $1.2 million project to improve the export standards of Nigeria’s sesame and cowpea products.

Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director-General of the WTO, made this announcement at the inauguration of seven trade support programs for Nigeria in Abuja on Tuesday. These programs were jointly organized by the WTO, World Bank, and International Trade Centre.

According to Dr. Okonjo-Iweala, the project aims to address the issue of Nigerian products being rejected in the international market.  This initiative, launched in collaboration with the Standards Trade Development Facility (STDF), International Trade Centre (ITC), and the Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC), will focus on supporting international safety and quality certification for Nigerian sesame and cowpeas.

Dr. Okonjo-Iweala emphasized the potential of Nigeria’s agricultural sector to drive export diversification and job creation, but noted that the sector has not yet achieved this potential.  She highlighted Nigeria’s historical prominence as an agricultural exporter and expressed concern about its shift towards becoming a net importer of many goods.

“The country has since become a net importer of many of these goods,” she said. “In fact, Nigeria has not only lost out in agricultural export markets, but it is also a net food importer, spending billions a year on goods that we can produce domestically.”

She further stressed the need to address trade-related issues on the supply side, particularly concerning sesame and cowpea exports. She pointed out the increasing rejection of Nigerian cowpea and sesame exports in various markets due to non-compliance with international standards.

The new project aims to enhance the capacities of stakeholders across the sesame and cowpea value chains. This will involve improving agricultural practices and ensuring compliance with international standards. It will include training local food safety advisors and implementing measures to enhance agricultural practices, food safety, and post-harvest methods.

“The project will kick off with an initial amount of $1.2 million, with nearly a million dollars coming from the STDF,” Dr. Okonjo-Iweala explained. 

Speaking further, she said, “This is a low-expenditure, high-impact project. While the WTO is not a financing agency like the World Bank or IMF, it has a powerful strategy. We spend small sums of money to make a big impact.  A million-dollar intervention can potentially earn Nigeria hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars in increased agricultural exports. This project will support improved incomes for farmers, exporters, businesses, and others involved in the agricultural sector, once producers and exporters adhere to the correct sanitary and phytosanitary standards.”

Nutritional Wonders of Mung Beans

Mung beans, scientifically known as Vigna radiata, are a vital member of the legume family, revered for their robust nutritional profile and versatility in the kitchen.  Commonly called “ndengu” in some regions, these small, green beans pack a powerful punch of plant-based protein, along with a range of essential amino acids, antioxidants, and nutrients that promote heart health and overall well-being.

Renowned for their adaptability, mung beans find their way into a myriad of dishes, from vibrant salads to hearty soups and tempting stir-fries. Their significance extends beyond the culinary realm, however, as they prove to be invaluable assets in agricultural practices. As soil-enriching cover crops and green manure, mung beans, particularly the yellow gram variety with its low-yielding but valuable yellow seeds, play a pivotal role in nurturing healthy and sustainable soil.

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