Nigeria’s biggest tomato plant owned by billionaire, Aliko Dangote, has called on the Federal Government to ban the importation of tomatoes.
According to Thisday, The Managing-Director of Dangote Tomatoes Processing Plant, Abdulkarim Lawal Kaita, told reporters that, for the Federal Government to sustain the new quest for consumption of locally made farm produce for exportation, there was need to place a total ban on the importation of fresh and processed tomatoes, as the company has the capacity to produce for both domestic consumption and exports.
Kaita gave his reasons, stating that the plant’s new investment in the production of fresh and processed tomatoes was capable of stopping the over $350 million the Federal Government was spending annually on the importation of processed tomatoes.
Kaita emphasized the need for the government to effect the ban on the importation of processed tomatoes, saying that, “just as it has been done in the case of rice, Nigeria will soon become a net exporter of the commodity.”
According to the MD, the processing plant was expected to make Nigeria self-sufficient in tomatoes production as it had recently established a N3 billion Green House nursery in Kano, designed to process over 300 to 350 million tons of hybrid tomato seedlings.
According to Kaita: “The management of the Dangote Tomatoes Processing Limited which is a subsidiary of Dangote Farms is excited to reveal the tremendous effort that we are making to ensure that Nigeria becomes self –sufficient in tomato production.
“The planting medium you are looking at is called PAT MOOSE which has the capacity of producing 350 million seedlings per season that can be used to plant an estimated 12,000 hectares of tomato farm.
“We are glad to disclose that we are the first to bring this new technology into the country and this is going to fast track the yield of our tomato farmers tremendously. The project is being executed under the CBN Tomato Anchor-Borrowers Programme. The CBN will be paying for the seedling that we are cultivating, and it will be distributed to farmers.”
What you should know: Nigeria consumes and produces around 2.3 million tonnes of tomatoes a year but the bulk of them begin to rot before they get to the market due to poor road network and storage facilities. Nigeria imports about 1.3 million tons of the red vegetable to replace the ones that get rotten, mostly from China and other parts of Asia. Nigeria is the third-largest importer of the commodity in Africa.