21 November 2017

Nigeria: Importers Frustrating Nigeria's Tomato Policy - Experts

Stakeholders in the agriculture sector say Nigeria is yet to feel the impact of the tomato policy six months after it was put in place by the federal government.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the stakeholders told participants at Agra Innovate West Africa forum on Tuesday in Lagos that Nigerians were yet to feel the impact of the policy.

The federal government in April this year announced a new tomato policy aimed at promoting local production of fresh tomato, increasing local production of tomato concentrate and reducing post-harvest losses.

The policy restricts the importation of tomato concentrates to the seaports to address the abuse of the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS), stops the importation of tomatoes preserved otherwise by vinegar or acetic acid, and increases the tariff on tomato concentrate to 50 per cent with an additional levy of $1,500 per metric ton.

Nigeria imports an average of 150,000 metric tons of tomato concentrate per annum, valued at $170 million, mostly due to inadequate capacity to produce tomato concentrate.

Current demand for fresh tomato fruits is estimated at about 2.45 million metric tonnes per annum, while the country produces only about 1.8 million metric tonnes per annum.

But the stakeholders say many importers are frustrating the tomato policy.

"A lot of importers anticipated the tomato paste policy and filled their warehouses with imported concentrates before the policy even commenced.

"We hope by next year when the importers have exhausted all they have imported before the policy we would begin to see the impact.

"For now, the impact of the tomato paste policy is not yet there," said Abdulkarim Kaita, Managing Director, Dangote Tomato Processing Factory.

According to Mr. Kaita, it is one thing to put a policy in place and it is another thing to ensure it is fully implemented.

Emmanuel Ijewere, vice president, Nigeria Agribusiness Group, NABG, said that the policy was slow to have real impact because importers were taking steps at frustrating its success.

"It is taking time for the policy to have impact on the industry. The problem we have is that the importers have turned out to be a very powerful group.

"And this is so sad because not a single tomato produced in the country is used for the paste Nigerians are consuming at present," Mr. Ijewere said.

The NABG boss said government realised the need to boost local production of tomato by enacting the policy but the importers are fighting back.

"This is the same problem we have with rice and chicken," he added.

He said that the policy approach was focused on addressing the issue from the processing end so as to trickle down to the smallholder farmers.

Mr. Ijewere said that the country was losing $15 billion annually to post-harvest losses and called on government to educate farmers on best practices.

Also speaking at the forum, Olatunde Oderinde, Team Leader, Market Development in the Niger Delta (MADE), said that Nigeria would only benefit from the tomato paste policy when all stakeholders were carried along in implementing it.

"We are yet to have a policy life cycle in Nigeria where every player in the industry is carried along and where their challenges are addressed holistically.

"Nigeria needs to work deliberately on policies that create inclusiveness. We need to sort out the issue of competitiveness to keep farmers productive.

"If we can provide them with a guaranteed market, the smallholder farmers will produce more," Mr. Oderinde added.

More than 30 exhibitors were on ground while over 1,000 visitors were recorded on the opening day of the two-day expo and conference.



Africa's Health Challenge is a Human Rights Issue

Access to health is a human right. The Constitution of the World Health Organization states that "the enjoyment of the… Read more »

Copyright © 2017 Premium Times. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 900 reports a day from more than 140 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.