Dangote Tomato Processing Company has requested the Nigerian government to place a ban on importation of tomato paste into the country.
Its managing director, Abdulkarim Kaita, made the demand on Thursday during the inauguration of tomato seedlings distribution to 5,000 farmers under the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Anchor Borrowers Programme at Kadawa, Kura Local Government Area of Kano State.
“We are appealing to the Federal Government to put a total ban on the importation of tomato like what it did to rice.”
Kaita noted that such a move would not only stimulate the local production of the commodity but also guarantee its self-sufficiency.
He is similarly optimistic that it will encourage development of more tomato processing plants, which will pave the way for more jobs to be created.
Tomato paste importation is still flourishing in the country, Mr Kaita said, considering that such imports still find their way into Nigeria from Cameroun and Cotonou, Benin Republic.
He disclosed that Dangote Tomato Processing Company had held talks with the Controller General at the Customs Headquarters over the matter but nothing has been done to curb the illicit practice.
“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,” he said.
The company is collaborating with the CBN to provide tomato farmers with high yield seeds that are hoped to produce at least 40 tons per hectare.
“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,” Kaita added.
Nigeria spends around $1 billion annually importing tomato paste, according to the United Nations Environmental Programme. 75 per cent of locally produces tomatoes are wasted due to storage constraints.
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