The Managing Director of Dangote Tomato Processing plant in Kadawa, Kano State, Abdulkarim Kaita has on Thursday called on the Federal government to ban importation of tomato paste like it ban rice importation into the country.
This was as he decried importation of tomato paste which he said was still thriving as the commodity was being imported from Cameroon and Cotonour in Benin Republic.
Kaita made the call while flagging off the distribution of tomato seedlings to 5,000 farmers under the Anchor Borrower of Central Bank of Nigeria on Thursday at Kadawa village in Kura LGA of the state.
The MD also dropped hint that plans are underway by the company to ensure that Nigeria is self sufficient and positioned to export tomato by establishing the biggest greenhouse in Africa which has the capacity to produce 350 million seedlings annually.
According to him, “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 is necessary so as to boost local production of the commodity and ensure that Nigeria is self sufficient in tomato production.
“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.
“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.
“Similarly, the company is putting a lot of effort to ensure that Nigeria is self sufficient in tomato production 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.
In his remarks, the Chairman, Kano State chapter, Tomato Growers Association of Nigeria, Sani Danladi-Yadakwari commended the Federal Government for including tomato value chain in the anchor borrower programme noting that it would go a long way in boosting tomato production in the country.
Some of the items benefitted by the tomato growers include seedlings, fertilizer, water pump and other inputs.