The Managing-director/Chief Executive Officer, Goshen Greenland Limited and representatives of LOVOL Arbos Group A Sino- Italian.
Company, David Okpon has called for the harmonisation of custom charges on all agricultural machineries and equipment.
He said we want government to harmonisé the charges because they are all agricultural equipment and so that when we bring in tractors whether 4 wheels or 2 wheels they can all fall under the same charges.
Mr Okpon made the call while speaking with Journalist in Abuja, at the Groups Exhibition stand at the ongoing AGRIKEXPO/NABG Conference.
Which began in Abuja on Monday, with the theme `Harnessing Nigeria’s Agricultural Potential for Food Security, Youth Development, Nutrition and Wealth Creation’,
According to Okpon 4 wheel tractors attracts 0% custom charges as against 2 wheel tractors which is classified under the HS code 8701,9019.00 and attracts 35% custom charges.
Mr Okpon recalled that “While preparing for this exhibition, we imported one of the low end tractors which is the Motor cultivator tractor( Also known as the Pedestrian tractor),which is mostly for small holder farmers who make up about 70% of Nigerian farmers, with women and children being the greatest numbers.
He however lamented that “When we brought in this tractors, we found out that the main tractors attracts 0% tax charges,while the motor cultivators attract about 35% in charges.
“While preparing for this exhibition, we imported one of the low end tractors which is the Motor cultivator tractor( Also known as the Pedestrian tractor),which is mostly for small holder farmers who make about 70% of Nigerian farmers, with women and children being the greatest numbers. And we think that we should empower this segment of farmers in Nigeria”.
He said”This was some thing we could not imagine,in fact we were so shocked, considering if we brought in this motor cultivators which we bought for N2.1 million naira and customs charges are 35% about N735,000 which we have been unable to pay up to date and we have come into the exhibition without these tractors, we have no opportunity to show it,rather we only have pictures of it instead of having the machine as we proposed.
He lamented”This is a dilemma for us,because the tractor has been there and incurred demurrage because we had thought it was going to attract 0% charges with customs”.
Calling on the government to reverse and harmonise the charges,he said “My request to the government is to reverse this particular charges because this motor cultivators falls under agricultural machinery”
The MD lamented that the implications of the differing charges is that they had lost customers that they would have gained at the exhibition and the cost of the machines would be too high for farmer”.
“If we have to bring a tractor for N2m and add another 1 million as a result of the charges and the additional VAT we won’t be able to sell to our target market.
After spending 35% which is N740,000, you need to add another 5% which is almost N200,000 making about N950,000 which is another N1million on the original cost,how much can we then sell,so this tractor cannot sell and cannot get into the hands of people that should receive it.
He added that the small tractors are what the farmers can use in their small farms rather than the big tractors and they can also be owned by cooperatives our idea is that cooperatives can own one and several farmers can own one,because what we are driving is productivity increase.
The MD said the major interest behind bringing in the motor cultivators is because the people who are feeding Nigeria are small holder farmers who have been labouring with hoes and cutlasses and we think that we should empower this segment of farmers in Nigeria.
He added that “Right now, agriculture is the way to go because that is what can increase the base of our economy, from agriculture we can start cottage industries and the basic and fastest way to go into agriculture is to bring some kinds of technology to help people in farming and the lowest end we thought was to bring these motor cultivators in” he added.