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Exporters should adhere to global standards

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By Mercy Kelani

Over 70 percent of food exports from Nigeria suffer rejection overseas.

Nigeria, despite its rich resources, is currently facing critical challenges, one of which includes rejection of its products in global markets as a result of substandard packaging and lack of product testing. The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) stated that more than 70 percent of food exports from Nigeria suffer rejection overseas, causing massive financial losses to the exporters, and Nigeria as a whole. A study has it that 30 percent of the products were not accepted abroad due to poor labelling and packaging.

However, this challenge has driven Nigeria towards enhancement of its global competitiveness through its focus on implementation of rigorous quality assurance measures and raising of standards. The former Director-General of the Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Mallam Farouk, in his address to industrialists during a general sensitization for micro, small and medium enterprises in Lagos, asserted that the journey of Nigeria to international competitiveness starts with being committed to ensuring the quality of its products and raising standards.

Industries should be focused on enhancing the quality of their goods.

The sensitization included representatives from major organisations including the Association of Micro Entrepreneurs of Nigeria, the Association of Master Bakers and Caterers of Nigeria, and the Nigerian Association of Small and Medium Enterprises, and other business associations. The Director-General stated that through investment in packaging innovation, implementation of thorough quality control measures, education of producers, and promotion of sustainable and ethical practices, Nigeria will be able to put an end to export rejections and have a space in the international market.

According to Mallam Farouk, there is a paramount need for industries in Nigeria to ensure adherence to critical quality standards and global best practices to overcome the challenges of rejection. Therefore, he urged industries to be focused on the enhancement of the quality of their goods and make sure that they meet global standards. He encouraged them to build collaboration with regulatory bodies like the Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) for guidance, stressing that the need for partnership cannot be overemphasized.

There is a likelihood for Nigeria to succeed in organic farming.

Farouk highlighted that adherence to global quality standards and proper packaging is significant to ensuring the acceptance of Nigerian products overseas. He also noted that usage of pesticides and fertilizers that contain chemicals could lead to rejection of food exports. Upon observation that Nigeria has the potential to succeed in organic agriculture, Farouk stated that implementing organic farming methods could make Nigeria more competitive in the international market. Through this change, Nigerian farmers will be able to manufacture goods that are in line with international preference for eco-friendly and organic products.

Speaking on the same issue, the Head of Department, Micronutrients, Good and Chemical Laboratories, SON, David Ikhenebome, said that a major factor causing export rejection is the lack of critical product testing before export. Without proper testing, Ikhenebome said that Nigerian exporters take the risk of exporting products that lack the requirements of importing nations, which thereby results in product rejection and huge financial losses for the exporter and the country. A producer must have certainty in the products that they produce.

Stakeholders highlighted lack of access to funding as a challenge.

Additionally, Professor of Nutritional Biochemistry, Department of Biochemistry, Lagos State University, Prof. Adu Benedict, stated that careful considerations should be taken to be certain of the quality, market readiness, and safety of packaged items before they are exported. Also, stakeholders present at the sensitization forum noted that one of the biggest difficulties encountered by SMEs in the country is restricted access to traditional funding sources, which makes it difficult for them to fit into global competition.

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