The Tomato Growers Association of Nigeria (TOGAN) has accused officials of the Federal Ministry of Finance and Nigeria Customs Services (NCS) for partnering with cabals in the tomato industry to kill local farmers.
The association, which comprises 47 million members has incurred N10 billion loss as a result of the partnership between the government’s agencies and the cabals who are into importation of tomato paste and concentrates.
Despite Nigeria’s Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (FSAN) office of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), saying that tomato paste imported from China and sold throughout Nigeria, falls far below national food safety standards, the cabals are still bringing in substandard from tomato paste into the country.
However, the association blamed government’s inability to fully implement the New Tomato Policy introduced in March 2017 with the primary aims of increasing the local production of fresh tomatoes; increasing local production of tomato concentrates and reducing post-harvest losses.
Part of the policy includes 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 per cent duty rate in the national list to 10 per cent duty rate with an additional Import Adjustment Tax (IAT) of 40 per cent, bringing the total to 50 per cent as well as a levy of $1,500 per metric tonne.
Speaking at a press conference in Lagos in collaboration with Nigerian Agricultural Business Group (NABG), National General Secretary Tomato Growers Association of Nigeria (TOGAN), Sani Danladi Yadakwari said that since the pronouncement of the policy by the Federal Government, it has been ignored by officials of the Federal Ministry of Finance in connivance with the cabal and NCS for reasons best known to them.
He explained: “Unfortunately, when we approached the NCS 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 implementation, it had exceeded the stipulated time of 90 days, hence, they cannot work on it.
“In other words, Federal Executive Council decision can be ignored by the almighty Customs Service! This season alone, our members have lost N10 billion due to poor sales and lack of guaranteed off-takers.”