Managing Director and Chief Executive Offi cer, Goshenn Greenland, Mr David Okpon, in this interview with JOHN OBA, during the just concluded agrikexpo lamented the discrepancies in federal government’s and policies on importation of agricultural equipment, and calls for a reversal.
Tell us about Goshenn? Goshenn Greenland, a representative of Lovol Arbos group, a Sino-Italian company. We are into agric consulting and machinery, we deal in tractors mainly. Our tractors are from 5.5 horse power to 260 horse power and fully built tractor from 20.4 horse power to 260 horse power. We have Goldoni tractor and Rus tractors, and they are all Italian products. What happened to your tractor?
While preparing for this exhibition, we imported a motor cultivated tractor, a pedestrian tractor, for the small holder farmers, as the small holder makes about 70% of Nigerian farmers, women and youth and we thought that we should empower this segment of farmers in Nigeria, fortunately when we brought this tractors, we found out that the main tractor, the 4 wheel tractors attract zero percent in charges while the motor cultivators attracts 35% in charges, this is something we couldn’t imagine, we were so shocked.
For instance, we brought in the motor cultivator for N2.1million and the custom charges is 35%, which is 745,000, and we have not been able to pay that money up till now. We have to come into the exhibition without been able to show our equipment, but the pictures instead of having the main tractor as we proposed. Now this tractor is left there incurring demurrage because we are not been able to pull up money, because we were told it was going to attract zero charges from custom. Why are you interested in bringing in the motor cultivator?
Th is is because 70% of the people producing food in Nigeria are smallholder farmers. In their farms, big tractors are useless, and they have been labouring with hoe and cutlass for a long time and even for the young people, like the NYSC youth who fi nish and done with school, we want to encourage them to go into farming.
Presently agriculture is the way to go, because agriculture is the one that can increase the base of our economy, from agriculture you can start cottage industries and companies that produce, process and distribute, thereby creating a vibrate value chain. Bringing in technologies is the basic and fastest way to go in agriculture to help people go into farming.
And the lowest earned we thought, was to bring this motor cultivator in, for instance the Oyo state government is bring in mini tractors and that’s because they recognize the importance of mini tractor in agriculture, many other states are doing the same, so we think this is where to go and in our research we knew that most farmers, small farmers needs the motor cultivator, because the big tractors are almost useless in their farms.
Do they do the same job? Th ey don’t, this tractor has the capacity to use 50 implements and this 50 implements can do 100 diff erent jobs, from clearing the farm to tilling, harvesting , processing, and other things in the time you are not farming, sweeping the street or any kind of place or cleaning, it’s a multi-functional kind of machine. What is your request to the government? My request to government is to reverse these particular charges, because this motor cultivator falls under agric machinery. So where do they classify it?
Th ey classify it under what they call the HS CODE, the HS Code for full scale tractor, fully built (FBU): HS CODE : 8701.9019.00 is diff erentfrom what they call the pedestrian controlled tractor which has a diff erent HS Code 8701.1000.00. What we want is for government to harmonize this, so that when you bring in a two wheel tractor it also falls under the zero custom charges. What is the implication of this denial?
Th e implication is that we have lost cost, because you can imagine if we have the tractor on ground, for the people who want to see and touch it, it would have given them a clearer picture of what they want to buy, so we have lost lot of customers due to the absence of the machine.
In addition, 35% duty on this machine will increase the price of the tractor, you can imagine if you bring in a tractor for N2 million and you add N1million on it, how much are we going to eventually sell it to the small scale farmers, who can’t aff ord big tractors, because after spending 35% which is N740, 000, you need to do another Vat of 10% that brings almost N200, 000 on it, so it goes to N950, 000.
So this is not desirable because when this tractor cannot get into the hands of people who needs it, it will aff ect the productivity. Th is small tractors can be owned by farmer’s cooperative which is going to make farming easier for them. Th e idea is that, cooperative should own one, and various farmers can keep interchanging it and productivity will increase. Because what we are driving is productivity increase.