Following the rejection of a large consignment of vegetables and other edibles exported from Nigeria by the United Kingdom (U.K.), the Chief Operating Officer, New RIVOC Limited, a member of the Strides Group, Nkem Joseph-Palmer, has said that the rejection would soon be a thing of the past.
In a telephone interview, Palmer said the New RIVOC is determined to raise the bar for the vegetable oil industry with the acquisition of relevant local and international certification from accreditation bodies that would ensure quality that meets international standards.
Strides Group, owners of Strides Energy and Maritime Limited (SEML), in a multi-billion naira deal signed in Lagos, by UBA Capital Trustees, on behalf of a consortium of four banks consisting Guaranty Trust Bank, United Bank for Africa, Zenith Bank, and Diamond Bank acquired the mortgaged assets of the Rivers Vegetable Oil Company Limited (RIVOC).
According to him, the company billed to commence operation soon would ensure the application of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) measures to determine critical control points and assure value is equivalent to best quality.
"It is an individual and strategic choice to obtain the relevant phytosanitary certificates for export. The Strides Group will achieve this with the relevant local and international certifications.
"We are determined to ensure that quality systems focused on export in the mid to long term exist in Nigeria, so the U.K. rejection of Nigerian vegetable oil may soon be a thing of the past.
"For us at the Strides Group, we will focus on assuring that our private standards meet international sanitary and phytosanitary measures, and will raise the bar for the industry."
Joseph-Palmer revealed that the lack of an ebullient quality management infrastructure is a current problem faced in Nigeria, which if resolved would bring the desired growth to the sector.
"We are currently poised to see that our vegetable oil plant meets ISO 9001:2015, ISO 22000:2015 and ISO 14001:2015 standards within the first six months of operations. Currently, we are applying HACCP measures to determine critical control points and assure value is equivalent to best quality.
"Looking down the value chain, we are constantly sifting our suppliers to assure quality, from farm to fork. Quality speaks for itself, and the international community understands the language," he assured.
The Guardian had at the weekend reported that a large consignment of vegetables and other edibles including vegetable oil exported from Nigeria to the U.K., were returned due to failure to meet international procedures.
The Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS), which disclosed this at a press briefing, said the produce were rejected on the ground that they were not accompanied with phytosanitary certificate, and not due to poor quality.
NAQS Head of Inspection, South West Zone, Dr. Moses Adewumi, said internationally, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) requires that in the movement of agricultural produce or commodities around the world, the commodities should be free from pest.