The Federal Government has banned the importation of packaged tomato paste, powder or concentrate, and increased the tariff on the importation of tomato concentrate among others from 5% to 50 % in order to revive the tomato sector. This was made known by the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Investment in a document titled: “Implementation of the Tomato Sector Policy.” The document which was signed by the Director, Industry Development of the ministry, Mr. Adewale Bakare, stated that such action would revive the sector, create jobs and preserve foreign exchange. It reads: “As you are aware, government has over time engaged tomato industry stakeholders on ways to deepen the industry and particularly, encourage the use of locally produced tomato fruits across the value chain. “It is in that regard that I am directed to bring to your notice the decision of the government towards boosting production and attracting investments into the tomato sector. “These include classification of greenhouse equipment as agricultural equipment to attract zero percent import duty. Ban on the importation of tomato paste, powder or concentrate put up for retailing and others. Ban on tomato prepared or preserved by vinegar or acetic acid and others. “Increase in the tariff on the tomato concentrate and other concentrates (HS Code 2002.90.11.000) from five percent to fifty percent and additional levy of $1,500 per metric tons with the objective of increasing the current tariff from five percent to fifty percent (35% +5%+10%) and an additional levy of US$1,500 metric ton. “Restriction on the importation of tomato concentrates to the seaports to address abuse of ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation scheme (ETLS) and inclusion of tomato production and processing in the list of industries eligible for investment incentives administered by the Nigeria Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC).” Packaged Tomato PasteAccording to the Ministry, the foregoing measures which are situated within the overall roadmap for the development of the industry, are expected to create jobs, save foreign exchange and create capacity for export of tomato concentrate and paste to ECOWAS sub –region and beyond. Last week, the Tomato Union of Nigeria (TUN) had sought the intervention of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in aiding access to raw materials through its foreign exchange policy. Worried about their inability to access triple concentrates needed to produce tomato paste, spokesman for the Union and Managing Director, Sonia Foods Industries Limited, Nnamdi Nnodebe, said the present forex policy continues to encourage smuggling of inferior tomato paste brands through the borders. Nnodebe said the only way to save the industry is for CBN to either remove tomato paste triple concentrate from the FX policy restrictions or provide the raw materials in question to the industry. The TUN stressed that if the local producers of tomato paste get the raw materials directly from CBN, it would save the industry from collapse and also help the government avoid creating more job losses. “It is no more profitable to produce locally hence the closures. How do you expect producers of tomato paste in Nigeria to compete with their foreign counterparts that have uninterrupted power supply, good roads and distribution network, subsidized loans from their governments. The major material used by the local brands, triple concentrate, has been taken away through this Forex policy,” Nnodebe lamented.
Tomato Paste Triple Concentrate is a crucial ingredient used to process consumer products such as packs of tomato paste, ketchup, sauces, among others.