Tomato Growers calls for immediate implementation of new tomato policy

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…Wants Customs, NAFDAC investigated

The Tomato Growers Association of Nigeria (TOGAN) has called for the immediate implementation of the new federal government policy on tomato by all the concerned agencies of the government.

The National Secretary of the association, Sani Danladi Yadakwari who disclosed this in a roundtable organized by members of the Nigerian Association of Agricultural Journalists (NAAJ) in Lagos Tuesday called on the Federal Government to launch an investigation into the Nigeria Customs Services and the reason it flouted Government Policy and bring the officers and their partners to justice.

Yadakwari further call for an investigation to reveal why the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) which he said had publicly declared that imported Tomato Pastes were only 28% tomatoes and the balance were additives and chemicals had failed to confiscate those produce that were unfit for human consumption even as he wants the government to investigate and bring to justice NAFDAC officials on the payroll of the cabals.

He recalled that in 2016, the Nigeria Agribusiness Group (NABG) approached His Excellency the Vice President of the Federal Government of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbanjo to weigh seriously the challenges facing farmers in Nigeria adding that emphasis during the meeting was on the tomato sector and the need for federal government regulations that would guide the importation of tomato concentrates with the ultimate aim of bringing Nigerian farmers out of the poverty line.

He pointed out that it was observed that the federal government cannot fully enforce an outright ban on importation of tomato paste or concentrates as Nigeria was a member of the World Trade Organization and that for the ban to be enforced there must be adequate proof of “DUMPING”.

According to him,” In 2017 the federal government announced a new tomato policy with primary aims that include; increasing the local production of fresh tomatoes; increasing local production of tomato concentrates and reducing post-harvest losses.

“The new policy went further to state: full implementation of the zero percent (0%) import duty policy for greenhouse equipment aimed at boosting production and attracting investment into the tomato sector, enforcement of the ban on importation of tomatoes prepared or preserved otherwise than by vinegar or acetic acid, the restriction on the importation of tomato concentrate to seaports only and not through land borders, the inclusion of tomato production and processing in the list of industries eligible for investment incentives by the Nigeria Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC) and the increase in the tariff on tomato paste or concentrates, not put up for retail sale: Triple concentrate and other (H.S Cod 2002.90.11.00 and 2002.90.19.00) from 5% duty rate in the National List to 10% duty rate with an additional Import Adjustment Tax (IAT) of 40%, bringing the total to 50% as well as a levy of $1,500 per metric ton.

“Since the pronouncement by the Federal Government, this policy has been ignored by officials of the Federal Ministry of Finance in connivance with the cabal and Nigerian custom service for interest best known to them that outweighs the survival of Millions of Farmers and Nigeria as a whole.

“Unfortunately when we approached the Nigerian Custom Service regarding the motive behind the non-implementation of the policy, we were told that between the date the policy was approved and the date they were given the gazette of the policy for the implementation, it had exceeded the stipulated time of ninety days, enhance they cannot work on it as it has expired.  In other words, Federal Executive Council decision can be ignored by the almighty Customs Service!

“Ladies and gentlemen of the press, as I am talking to you now, this season alone our members have lost N10 Billion due to poor market and lack of guaranteed off takers. The Open market cannot mop all the harvest”.

The TOGAN Secretary General revealed that Dangote Farms and Savannah Foods which had off-take arrangements with farmers had remained handicapped, unable to produce and their factories shut down as these packers of triple concentrate in country rely heavily on importation at the detriment of Nigeria Farmers and Industries.

“Even more shocking is the excessive importation by this CABAL resulting from warning from the customs officials as soon as the Policy was given out in March 2017. Our sources claim they have stock-piled over 2 years’ worth of tomato concentrates and paste with the help of both Customs and NAFDAC. Hence they do not need to buy any made in Nigeria Concentrate originating from our farmers’ hard labour. In other words, Nigeria is enslaved by this CABAL of untouchables.

“These Indigenous factories which off-take tomatoes from farmers are shutting down because of lack of buyers, because theses packers would rather import from China and other countries. You recall that Nigeria’s Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (FSAN) office of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has revealed that tomato paste imported from China, and sold throughout Nigeria, falls far below national food safety standards.

“FSAN conducted a study in which 314 packets of tomato paste were purchased in Lagos. The tomato paste samples were subjected to analysis in a laboratory to determine whether they had a tomato content of at least 28 percent. This 28% is the minimum requirement specified by the Codex Alimentarius Standards and Nigerian Industrial Standards. The results of the study revealed that 91.1 percent of the samples examined, had tomato contents that are below the standard 28 percent recommended as minimum.

“The findings of the study indicate that tomato paste packers are conspiring with Chinese tomato paste manufacturers to distribute substandard products to unsuspecting Nigerian consumers. Yet we watch!”, he added.

He therefore, on behalf of the Millions of Tomato Growers in Nigeria, appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to hear their cry saying,”We are not asking for subsidy but full implementation of what the government has promised. Your Excellency Sir, please sir come to our aid to save our live and our source of livelihoods background from total collapse”.

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