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APEMAN seeks support for indigenous manufacturers


President of Erisco Foods Limited, Chief Eric Umeofia

President of Erisco Foods Limited, Chief Eric Umeofia

The Agricultural Products and Equipment Manufacturers in Nigeria (APEMAN) has advocated for government support for indigenous manufacturers to enable the country get out of its present economic challenges. Addressing a press conference in Lagos, the General Secretary of the association, Alhaji Farouk Abdullahi, decried the unfortunate situation Nigeria finds itself by depending on foreigners for its agro-allied needs and urged the Federal Government to fully support indigenous manufacturers to enable the country attain self-sufficiency in food production as well as for export.

Alhaji Abdullahi expressed surprise that though Nigeria has the best tomatoes in the world, yet we spend millions of dollars annually to import tomato paste into the country. He urged the government to support the farmers in terms of prompt provision of fertilizers and farm inputs who will in turn, provide the raw materials for the production of agro-allied products in the country. The indigenous manufacturers say they are not convinced with the explanations offered by the CBN and called on the apex bank to provide facts and figures on the FOREX allocations. Abdullahi noted that indigenous manufacturers should not be complaining of dollars since they produce locally and only need Forex to import their raw materials and machines that are not produced locally.

The president of the association, Chief Eric Umeofia in his speech alleged that the Central Bank of Nigeria is deliberately killing indigenous manufacturers by giving our scarce foreign exchange to foreigners to import finished food products including fish head, tomato paste, frozen foods etc. Chief Umeofia decried the activities of relevant government agencies who are more interested in supporting foreigners these indigenous manufacturers and said that they have sourced more loans from their overseas operations to help grow the Nigerian economy. We have also serviced our domestic loans and we are up to date with meeting up with our domestic obligations to the banks despite daunting challenges which has made us to lose up to N3.6Billion.

We have resolved not to bring money from overseas operations to support our Nigeria tomato business; rather we will relocate our tomato paste plant outside the country as desired by CBN, NAFDAC and Federal Ministry of Trade, Industry and Investment. But at the expiration of the 30 days notice, we will regrettably begin the relocation of our factory outside the country unless there’s a change in policy that will favour local manufacturing he said.

Umeofia challenged the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to publish FOREX allocations to manufacturers so as to know if he is fabricating lies against them. ‘Unfortunately, the CBN is yet to respond or defend their action of allocating and approving about US$15 million among numerous others, that we have evidence to be provided on demand for the importation of frozen fish, tomato paste, fish head etc against their own law on the 41-item FOREX importation prohibition list.

They kept pleading with us to bear with them that FOREX is not available yet they kept allocating same to foreigners to import finished products that we can produce better locally to the detriment of indigenous manufacturers despite the promise by CBN to allocate 60% FOREX to manufacturers, he concluded.

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