COPAN seeks incentives for agro processing industry

Some industrialists have said that it is important for the Federal Government to come up with incentives aimed at improving the agricultural processing sector in Nigeria.

Specifically, the operators under the aegis of Cocoa Processors Association of Nigeria said that there was the need for government to stop paying lip-service to issues concerning the agricultural processing industry.

They noted that the cocoa industry, for instance, was not getting the necessary attention from the Federal Government, adding that this had caused untold hardship to operators in the industry.

The past Chairman, COPAN, Mr. Akin Olusuyi, who said this at a briefing on Thursday, explained that the real sector in Nigeria had never been competitive in comparison with the offshore business, because the incentives needed to make it work were not available.

He also wondered why there was no intervention in the industry.

He said, “I think it is time for government to concentrate more on boosting local processing of cocoa, instead of giving various incentives to boost exportation of this product as this has been resulting in the neglect of the local manufacturers and processors.

“Raw cocoa beans export is dangerous and inimical to agro-industrial development, especially now that it is being highly rewarded by government; thereby exporting our own much needed jobs to European countries to keep their factories working at optimum capacity and sustaining their employment.

“It is, therefore, important for government to encourage this agricultural-based industry and to give incentives that work. If indeed the Federal Government is serious about developing agric, it must encourage value addition and create infrastructures that would make it work.”

Also speaking, the Chairman, COPAN, Mr. Dimeji Owofemi, noted that the cocoa industry was not performing to its full potential.

He added that if care was not taken, the industry would suffer like the oil sector, where crude was exported in its raw form, refined abroad and later sold to the country at very expensive rates.

Owofemi said incentives in form of Export Expansion Grant to all exporters of raw agricultural commodities like cocoa beans without processing to semi and finished products should be discouraged.

“We hope that government will listen to our pleas this time and that our expectations would receive much need attention in order to fast-track the transformation of the cocoa subsector as a major diversification and employment advancement of the Nigerian economy towards the desired growth-led path,” he said.

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