Nigeria Should Add Value To Agriculture - Owofemi

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Foods Plc, Mr. Oladimeji Owofemi, has stressed the need for the government to take value-addition to agricultural commodities very seriously.

Owofemi, who said this on the sidelines of the company’s Annual General Meeting, noted that the country had over the years encouraged the export of raw-based agricultural items at the expense of companies involved in processing.

“Nigeria needs to take a serious look at value addition to agricultural commodities. We already have unpleasant experience from our decision to allow crude oil to be exported to a point that we are importing refined products from neighbouring countries.

“Today, cocoa is exported in its raw form and government is also rewarding those taking those raw commodities with export expansion grant, even though they are not paying that grant any more. So factories that should be encouraged are put at a disadvantage with people that are exporting raw-based. Same for every other agricultural commodities, and I think it is time government needs to start a rethink of that,” Owofemi said.

He said the government policy favoured export of raw-based commodities, adding that “the overseas people or factories that we are supporting, when they want to buy the value-added product from us, they also penalise us by charging duties on it because they want us to continue to ship raw commodities to them and that has to stop.”

Asked if the recent devaluation of the naira would boost export of agriculture products, he said, he said access to capital remained a major challenge for companies in the agricultural sector.

“It could if they provide working capital for us to be able to put raw materials through those factories. That is why when you do that, you need to come back and say factories that have good assets that can generate foreign exchange need to be encouraged,” Owofemi said.

He said the government does not need to be persuaded to diversify the economy given the trend of oil prices.

“It (falling oil price) is not going to abate soon and they should accept that reality now,” he added.

Source : Punch
 
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