Nigeria Spends N165 billion yearly on fruit juice imports, says MAN

Nigeria imports fruit juices valued at N165bn annually, according to the president of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Frank Jacobs.

Speaking at a workshop organized by the Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC) in Owerri on Friday, Mr. Jacobs noted that in spite of the high rate of fruit production and a vibrant juice market, the country imported fruit concentrates.

In the paper presented at the workshop and titled “Promoting Investments in Concentrate Production,” the Man president said, the situation resulted in an estimated loss of $1bn annually.

Mr. Jacobs, who was represented by Nwabueze Anyanwu, observed that Nigerian farmers were also at a loss as 60% of their fruit produce is lost due to lack of processing facilities.

He listed other challenges facing farmers to include limited demand and logistical challenges such as handling and transporting the fruits to the urban centres.

“Importation of concentrates has adversely affected local fruits cultivation for juice processing,” Mr. Jacobs said.

He added that the continued dependence on massive importation of concentrates by industries was not healthy for the nation’s economy.

He said that the availability of raw materials (fruit produce), a large market, a ready domestic concentrate and good export potentials should serve as incentives to attract investment in the project.

The MAN president said that the challenge of poor concentrates in the country could be overcome with improved high-yield seedlings, technology and technical services and better education and enlightenment for farmers.

He urged the government to ensure policy consistency to avoid repetition of policy mistakes of the past.

Mr. Jacobs added that research and development be made an integral part of the country’s backward integration policy while various research institutions should be strengthened through funding and manpower development. Another area to be considered, he said, was a “special lending facility of not more than 5% interest rate” for investments in concentrate production in view of the huge capital outlay required for the project.

Jacobs opined that the gains of promoting resource-based industralisation included conservation of foreign exchange, employment generation, wealth creation, economic diversification and poverty alleviation.

“A nation’s over dependence on importation harms its poise, weakens its future reserves, affects its ability to be fully independent and presents a string of unpredictable social ills,” he said.

The workshop was organized in collaboration with the Imo State Polytechnic, Umuagwo.

Source: NAN

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