NIGERIA – Mr Ken Ayere, a South Africa-based Nigerian businessman, on Monday urged the Federal Government to relax restrictions on the export of some food items.

Ayere, a former President of Nigerians in Diaspora, in Johannesburg on Monday said that Nigerian restaurant operators in that country had challenges importing some food items.

He noted that the level of acceptability of African cuisine, especially Nigerian Foods, was very high.

“We have this challenge of getting some of our local foods into South Africa. For instance, we import plantain from the United States of America and yam from Ghana.

“By the time these foods arrive and the time used to check them, some will get rotten and not suitable for consumption.”

Ayere, a former bureau chief of NAN in South Africa, suggested that officials of both countries should jointly inspect export produce at the ports, to ensure that correct foods are brought in.

“Besides, it will make it easy for clearance at the ports here when the containers arrive.

This has been a big challenge and we appeal to the Federal government to relax restrictions on the export of some Nigerian foods.

“Specifically, we need yam, plantain, spices, snail and palm oil for our business. We appeal to the government to make their export easy, to improve our delicacies.

“The decision of the government to commence yam export is a step in the right direction. Nigerians abroad, especially in South Africa, are delighted with the news,” he said.

Ayere, who owns a restaurant called “Home Baze”, said he went into the food business in 2003 to bridge the gap between foreign and African cuisines.

“Before I opened Home Baze, I found out that Africans patronised foreign cuisines in South Africa.

“When we started the business, that concept changed and I am proud to say that the level of acceptability of African cuisines, importantly Nigerian foods here, is very high.

“South Africans and other nationals are in love with our food. We need assistance to bring in some food because the cost of getting them from America or Ghana is high,” Ayere said.