As Farmers, processors canvass import restriction
A positive outcome recorded in rice production in the country, under the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) agriculture intervention programme, may be underway, as it is already assessing huge interests and investments for the produce by stakeholders.
For a start, the apex bank has assured tomato farmers of all the necessary support with a formal take off of Anchor Borrowers Programme for tomato production, given the off-taker arrangement with Dangote Factory.The CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, expressed optimism that a revolution, similar to what was recorded in the production of rice is about to recur.
In quick response, the Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbe, assured farmers of better days ahead, with a firm commitment by CBN for protective policies, which may include the addition of tomato in the import prohibition list.But Emefiele, speaking during a tour of Dangote Tomato Processing Factory and Farms, in Kadawa, Garun Malam Local Government Area of Kano State, declared the facility as the only real processing plant in Nigeria for now.
He said others were merely making claims, while they engaged in importation of tomato puree and concentrates and packaging same in the country. He explained that CBN’s collaboration in the acquisition of the greenhouses for the production of high-yield seedlings had rested the initial challenges encountered on the project.
“With the initial daily production of a million tomato nurseries alone, more people would be encouraged to embrace farming thereby creating jobs for our people along the entire value chain and reverse the exportation of jobs,” he said.
The Chairman, Dangote Farms, Sani Dangote, had earlier hinted that when the factory becomes fully operational, Nigeria would not only be self-sufficient in tomato production in the next one year, but will also be exporting to other African countries within three years.
Dangote expressed the company’s readiness to produce about one million seedlings daily, in addition to processing enough for domestic consumption, given the right policies in place, including restriction on importation of tomato puree.
The Deputy Governor of Kano State, Nasir Yusuf Gauna, said the state has really keyed into large-scale agricultural production by partnering with Dangote Farms by way of rendering all necessary assistance for the take-off of the project.According to Gauna, the state government has also been subsidising farming activities in many ways, including incentives in agricultural land, irrigation facilities, pesticides, and resuscitation of the moribund fertilizer plant.
Representatives of the tomato farmers in Kadawa were resolute in calling on the government to expeditiously effect fiscal measures to protect local farmers.According to the coalition of farmers, there is urgent need to safeguard investments by restricting importation of tomato puree, among other agricultural produce into the country.