The Federal Government yesterday disclosed that it was renewing economic ties with Mexico, three years after it banned Nigeria from exporting Hibiscus flowers.
Nigeria in 2017 exported 1,983 containers of hibiscus flower, also known as zobo leaves and earned $35million within the space of nine months. Unfortunately, the flower was banned as a result of pest infestation seen in some of the consignment shipped into the country.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Mohammad Mahmood Abubakar, while receiving a delegation led by the new Mexican Ambassador to Nigeria, Alfredo Miranda, regretted the suspension of the country from exporting Hibiscus flowers.
He pointed out that “it is regrettable that the suspension of hibiscus trade lasted for nearly three years longer than it should and resulted in a slowdown of the momentum of export activities around hibiscus.”
The Minister said the period was used to decisively overcome the proximate cause of the suspension of export, assuring that days of khapra beetle infestation of some of the hibiscus consignments are behind us.”
He pledged that the ministry would work closely with off-takers and exporters through the Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS) to facilitate the building of chambers dedicated to methyl bromide fumigation of hibiscus.
The Minister commended the Ambassador for his efforts towards ensuring that the compliance issues that stalled the export of Nigerian hibiscus to Mexico were resolved during his tenure.
While noting that the renewed ties will lead to robust diplomatic relationship, strategic trading as well as rewarding traffic for trade, Abubakar stated that Mexico is not just another country that Nigeria has good diplomatic relations with, but also a strategic trading partner and the biggest importer of the country’s hibiscus.
He however informed the delegation that Nigeria is a large producer of Ginger and Chili Peppers among others, and will want to be Mexico’s importer of choice for these products, saying “our hope is that you will support NAQS to achieve this mutually-beneficial outcome’’.
In his remarks, the Mexican Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Miranda said that his country is deeply involved in strengthening the capacity of the agricultural produce, adding that hibiscus value was worth more than $600 million, even as he expressed delight to do business with the country under the Ministry.
In his remarks, the Comptroller General, NAQS Dr. Vincent Isegbe said that “hibiscus is one of the products that we have been exporting to Mexico, ‘’we have been doing well on it until we have hitches on it, but with the resumption of the new Ambassador it took only 3 hours to resolve the matter”.