The Acting Director-General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Mrs. Yetunde Oni, has thrown down the gauntlet, stating that the agency will begin to prosecute supermarkets and stores found selling imported fruit juices as well as importers of the said product come January 2017.
The DG said that imported fruit juices fall under prohibited items and should not be imported into the country. She stressed that Nigeria has the local capacity to manufacture fruit juices, with abundance of fruits all year round and the fertile soil to grow it.
Oni cited Benue State as an example of a state that can grow fruits all year round, calling the state the “food basket of the nation.” She questioned why our people can’t process these fruits into juices. The country has manufacturing companies that can produce the juices, she added.
If local producers process the fruits into juices, “they will be contributing to our economy; we’ll create employment and have mastery of that particular vocation,” she said. The DG added that the fruit juices produced in the country are of better quality than the imported ones.
Oni said that NAFDAC had a meeting in June when it was decided to begin enforcing existing laws regarding prohibited items such as fruit juices and others. The effort is part of the “Change” agenda announced by the Federal Government earlier in the year.
She noted that the agency agreed at the meeting not to create artificial scarcity by making sure local producers can meet demand and also be able to export. According to the DG, the agency will begin enforcing the ban on 1st January, 2017, with 31st December 2016 being the last day of the grace period. She said that the agency has been working since June when the meeting was held. As a result, there has been a drastic reduction of imported fruit juices found in supermarket stores.
“We are mopping them up. We’ll start from the source. You know, we have the addresses of the source, those importing the items. We have been engaging them in discussion in order to be on the same page with us,” she said.
The NAFDAC chief urged consumers to report supermarkets found to be selling imported fruit juices to the nearest NAFDAC office, with the name and location of the supermarket so the agency can go in and remove the items and prosecute those concerned.
“We will prosecute any supermarket that sells imported juices. That is the ultimate,” the DG warned.
Oni added that the agency was working hand-in-hand with the Nigerian Customs Service to interdict prohibited items at border posts both at sea and on land before they enter the country.
“We’re in Seme, Idiroko, Ilela, Kangba, Maitagaru and there are some other ones we are looking into for 2017 to begin to man as well, so that goods prohibited by NAFDAC do not come into the country through the borders,” she said.