By: Bamidele Fashube
The Managing Director (MD), Dangote Tomato Processing plant in Kadawa, Kano State, Abdulkarim Kaita has on Thursday called on the Federal Government (FG) to ban importation of tomato paste.
He made the call while flagging off the distribution of tomato seedlings to 5,000 farmers under the Anchor Borrower of Central Bank of Nigeria at Kadawa village in Kura LGA, Kano State.
The MD who lamented the importation of tomato paste from Cameroon and Cotonou, Benin Republic said the ban is necessary to boost local production of the commodity and ensure that Nigeria is self sufficient in tomato production.
His words:”We are appealing to the Federal Government to put a total ban on the importation of tomato like what it did to rice.
“the ban on the importation of tomato paste would lead to the establishment of more tomato processing plants thereby creating job opportunities for many people in the country.”
According to him, the Company had on several occasions visited the Customs Headquarters and met with the Controller General with a view to addressing the challenge.
“The company had on several occasions visited the Customs Headquarters and met with the Controller General with a view to lodging complaint over the issue but nothing was done to check the ugly trend.
“It is only by putting a total ban on tomato importation that the government can encourage farmers to grow the commodity for the country to be self sufficient.
“The company was working with the Central bank of Nigeria under the anchor Borrower programme to provide tomato farmers with high yield seeds which will enable them to produce a minimum of 40 tons per hectare,” he said.
He hinted that plans were underway to ensure Nigeria is self-sufficient and positioned to export tomatoes by establishing the biggest greenhouse in Africa which has the capacity to produce 350 million seedlings annually.
“There are 12 major tomato producing states in the country which if fully cultivated, in the next one year, Nigeria will be able to start exporting tomato.
“The greenhouse which is the largest in Africa, is established to provide tomato growers with high yield tomato seedlings in the country,” Kaita said.