The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Mohammad Mahmood Abubakar, has said that the Federal Government would revive economic ties with Mexico and the export of Hibiscus flowers, also known as zobo leaves, which was banned three years ago. The minister made this known Thursday when he received the delegation led by the Mexican Ambassador to Nigeria, His Excellency, Mr Alfredo Miranda in his office in Abuja.
He said that Mexico is not just another country with which Nigeria has good diplomatic relations but a strategic trading partner and the biggest importer of the country’s dried hibiscus flowers.
Abubakar recalled that in 2017, Nigeria earned $35m from the export of 1,983 containers of Zobo leaves into Mexico within nine months. Unfortunately, Mexico banned the shipment of the hibiscus because of pest infestation in a few of the consignments.
The minister regretted the embargo of the hibiscus trade for three years and a resultant slowdown of the momentum of export activities around hibiscus.
Also, Abubakar revealed the period was used to overcome the proximate cause of the suspension of export decisively. “The days of the khapra beetle infestation of some of the hibiscus consignments are behind us,” he assured.
He pledged 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.
He commended the ambassador for his efforts to ensure that the non-compliance issue that stalled the export of Nigeria’s hibiscus to Mexico are resolved during his tenure.
“Nigeria is a large producer of ginger, chilli peppers and others. We will love to be Mexico’s importer of choice for these products. We hope you will support NAQS to achieve this mutually beneficial outcome,” he added.
In his remarks, 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 in doing business with the country under the Ministry.
In an earlier remark, the Comptroller-General, NAQS, Dr Vincent Isegbe said “hibiscus is one product that Nigeria has been exporting to Mexico before the embargo. We were doing well until we had hitches. But, with the resumption of the new ambassador, it took only 3 hours to resolve the matter”.