Tomato Processors Association of Nigeria (TPAN) has decried the amount of money spent on importation of processed tomato paste, saying that the country has become a dumping ground for fake and low quality Asian tomato paste.
The association in a statement said that cheap imports were causing serious damage to the tomato industry.
While noting that the international standard is 28 per cent brix for canning and between 34 – 36 per cent brix for drumming, the association regretted that majority of tomato paste imported, however, do not exceed 26 per cent brix, resulting in watery paste.
The company said that the spate of importation adulterated tomato sauce in the name of tomato paste is of grave concern to stakeholders in the tomato industry.
“The trend has further been heightened by the challenge of improper categorisation of the different types of tomato content imported into Nigeria. The tools and techniques required to properly qualify before certifying these prodccts are currently not being used.
“Hence, imported tomato sold in Nigeria is more than 50 per cent cheaper than what it is being sold in their countries of origin,” TRAN stated.
TPAN said that manufacturers and regulatory authorities should explain why a 210-gram of supposed 100 per cent tomato paste of 265 brix is sold at between 1.1 euro and 1.8 euro in Europe and the same content is sold in Nigeria at N80.
The government, in the last 10 years, it said, had stepped up investments in the agricultural value chain ,with the tomato industry benefiting in excess of N20 billion, adding that there has been a sharp increase in tomato importation in excess of 10 per cent annually.
This gain, it said, has been affected by sharp practices by tomato traders and manufacturers from Asia, who produce low quality tomato.
The association said that Nigeria possessed the potential to lead the world in tresh tomato production, adding that when the three big processing plants (Dangote, Vegefresh and Savannah) begin productIon, their aggregate output would meet domestic and export demands.
TPAN urged the government to provide an enabling environment for the key local processing companies to utilise their capacity by giving them three to five years moratorium before liberalising the market.
Among other things, the association asked the government to increase duty on all imported tomato products to 100 per cent.
They asked government not to reduce the current tariff, but rather make duty on all imported tomato products 100 percent. Drum tomato can remain at the present five percent until next fanning season.
The body said that government should, henceforth, leave the business of tomato importation of necessary shortfall in demand to local manufacturers and discourage the era of indiscriminate trading.
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