Experts, including farmers, have said that duties payable on imported agricultural products are partly responsible for the hike in the production costs of players in the sector by up to 70 per cent in the last two years.
In a chat with The PUNCH in Lagos on Sunday, the Lagos chapter Chairman of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria, Mr. Femi Oke, said that the levies payable on the importation of agricultural inputs were hurting the sector.
“The increase in the importation cost of agricultural products is not really encouraging at all. We believe the Federal Government should waive every levy and tax on agricultural imports. That would solve a lot of problems. These things are having about 70 per cent effect on the agricultural products and also the taxes on the importation of agricultural products.”
Also speaking, the Deputy Lagos Chairman, AFAN, Mr. Shakin Agbayewa, stressed the need for the country to start producing most of its daily needs instead of depending wholly on imports. He said that over-dependence on importation of agricultural products and inputs was greatly affecting the country negatively.
“Wheat is one of the most consumed products in Nigeria and 90 per cent of wheat is imported into the country. Why can we not start farming wheat in the country? Now, few people move into the importation of wheat in Nigeria, going against us planting the product. Today, the countries we import wheat from are at war and we cannot bring wheat into the country again,” he said, noting that the country should leverage the present opportunities in the wheat market by farming the crop.
Meanwhile the president of AFAN, Kabir Ibrahim, said that the raw materials used to blend the fertilizers were imported, which was one of the major reasons for the high cost of agricultural products in the country.
Ibrahim, who identified high cost of fertilizer as a major challenge for farmers, pointed at insecurity as another challenge.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Center for the Promotion of Private Enterprise, Dr. Muda Yusuf, said farmers should not be talking about duties on wheat and sugar, but must focus more on cost of imported inputs.
“Farmers should not be talking about duties on wheat and sugar. What they should be talking about is the cost of imported inputs like agrochemicals and machineries. They cannot be complaining about the fact that they are paying high import duty on wheat because they are supposed to be planting it and not importing it. Farmers should take advantage of the high import duty. It should be in their favour, but if you are talking about the inputs, especially fertilizers, agrochemicals and agricultural machineries, then those things should actually be attracting zero duty. And I think there is a tariff concession on those things. Ideally, the government should waive duties completely on agrochemicals and farm equipment.”