ABUJA- THE Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Service, NAQS, disclosed at the weekend that the country generated $35 million within nine months in 2017 from hibiscus (zobo) export. This was made known by the Coordinating Director, NAQS, Dr Vincent Isegbe, at the ‘National Survey of 13 Agricultural Commodities by the Inter-ministerial Committee on Prevention and Control of Mycotoxins in Agricultural Commodities’ meeting held in Abuja. Nigeria Isegbe also explained that the essence of the committee was to know the prevalence type of mycotoxins and on which commodities, in order to help guide policy makers decide on what to do next and also open the country’s economy to opportunities in research, development, public health disease prevention and the general wellbeing of the nation. According to him, hibiscus popularly called zobo has high commercial value that state governments could key into, which already Jigawa State has and now the largest producer of the commodity, followed by other states like Kastina, Kano, Zamfara, Kebbi, Zamfara, Borno and Yobe. Meanwhile, states like Edo, Kwara could cultivate zobo plant due to the dry weather they have and would also boost their revenue generation. For the farmers of zobo, he said were registering in Jigawa and Kano States, but advised them to form organised hibiscus farmers’ clusters as seen in other crops and value chains, which would further increase the production and export volumes, thereby access government and donor interventions in capacity building and technical assistance. “In the last one year there has been increase in exports of agricultural commodities. Hibiscus alone in one country, Mexico, generated $35 million in nine months. Last year we made more than $20 million, and that is just one commodity. “In the last one year we have done what we call export improvement initiative for so many commodities. That means we are bringing those commodities that were lying low to ensure that they are properly positioned for export. “They use it for organic colouring agents for drinks and wines, and as natural blended drink as we drink zobo here in Nigeria, the pharmaceuticals also use it for colouring because is organic. “In 2016 it generated $20 million, while in 2017 it generated $35 million within nine months. 1, 983 containers were exported to Mexico alone, while other countries in Europe like Germany, Greece, Latvia, and countries of former USSR.” Meanwhile, on the issue of Mycotoxin the NAQS boss said has been a serious food safety challenge bedeviling Nigeria and many other countries around the world. Mycotoxins are poisonous substances secreted by fungi on food and feed which are associated with immunosupression, growth stunting, cancers, particularly liver and kidney cancers, infertility and death among animals and humans. On contamination, they constitute a serious food safety problem and have consequences on agriculture, public health, national and international trade. According to him the 13 agricultural commodities the committee whose members are drawn from Ministries of Health, Agriculture, Environment, National Food Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC, and other agencies of government for the planned survey will focus on maize, rice, sesame, melon, sorghum, millet, groundnut, ogbono, elubo, dried fish, kilish (beef), animal feed, milk and other animal products.