NIGERIA: Oil Palm Producers Kick against Imports Waiver

 Palm PlantationLocal producers of oil palm products have called on the Federal Government to review the waiver for importers of oils palm products, so as to protect the local industry.

The Coalition of Oil Palm Value  Chain  Associations (COPVCA) made the demand during a protest visit to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in Abuja. The group also demanded an establishment of a N100 billion development fund by the federal government as bailout intervention for the industry.

Leader of the coalition, Mr. Moye Ladoja, noted that importation of over 24,000 metric tonnes of palm oil, annually into the country by eight companies was a major threat to the huge investment of local manufacturers and the nation’s economy.

The stakeholders also urged the government to  strictly impose the 35 per cent import duty  on palm oil importation to resuscitate the local industry.

“Today, local producers are holding on to unprecedented stocks, because prices have crashed and they are being forced to sell at ridiculously, low and unsustainable price levels. This is occasioned by the influx of cheap, subsidised palm oil from Asia,” he said.

According to Ladoja, the oil palm industry was in distress, due to the  government's apathy to the policy onslaughts of Malaysia and Indonesia. He added that government policies were geared towards Nigeria patronising foreign investors, rather than the country striving to attain self sufficiency in palm oil production.

He maintained that massive importation of oil palm into the country under the ECOWAS Trade Liberation Scheme (ETLS) was a major threat to the huge investment of stakeholders.

Ladoja called on the government to as a matter of urgency to withdraw waiver granted to some importers of palm oil, and exclude producers from paying company tax to scale up investment into the industry.

“Since the first quarter of the year, we have witnessed increased important of crude palm oil and refined products into Nigeria, which had crashed the domestic trade. Our product system is well accustomed to the seasonality of production.

“We need to put it on record that it is not illegitimate to import CPO into the country provided the appropriate duty is paid. However, we must recall that when the ban on the importation of CPO was lifted, the objective was to make the product more available as raw material for industrial processing and manufacture of downstream products. It is amazing to discover that the same companies that purportedly import CPO as raw material also engage in direct trade in the product. More disturbing is the rising importation of refined products, which is under ban in the guise of 'crude palm olein',” he added.

Minister and Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, while responding to the issues said massive importation of crude palm oil would dislodge the initial government’s policy to revamping the industry, and thereby promised to address the issues.

Adesina observed that some investors had in the past lured government into issuing special import licence concessions to them by establishing an oil palm plantation, with the intention to engage in importation.

“It must be noted that there are some operators, who just get into establishing small plantations for the sole aim of qualifying for special import license concessions which is really the big trade they are into, but which destroys the industry”.

The Minister added that the bold step taken by the government on rice production, when it withdrew waver granted to some few investors and set 35 per cent import tariff, would be applied, saying that “the country is presently paying for the reduction in the import duty for oil palm importers”.

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