Nigeria Spends N4trn On Tomato Importation

Over N4 trillion ($16 billion) has been spent on importation of processed tomatoes into the country in the last three years due to lack of processing factory.

President of Tomato Growers, Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria (TGPMAN), Alhaji Abdullahi Ringim, disclosed this in Lagos.

He noted that the huge importation was due to many years’ neglect of the country’s agriculture sector. Ringim noted that Nigeria had remained a net importer of the produce. He said: “What people do not even realise is that there is no single tomato processing industry in Nigeria.

Wherever you see tomato, either in can or sachet, they are all imported. Most people are of the view that Gino produces tomato in Nigeria, but the fact is that the ‘can tomatoes’ are not produced here.

“The only tomato processing company that has the capacity of processing 1,200 metric tons per day is the one being installed in Kano State by the Dangote Group. It has no canning line, but only processing.

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The second is our own company in Dadinkowa, which has the capacity produce 600 metric tons, but with a canning line,” Ringim noted.

The TGPMAN boss reasoned that if government had put viable agricultural policies in place, funds would have been channeled to other critical projects in the country.

He stressed that it was a shame that Nigeria had remained a net importer of tomato, which is having adverse effect on locally processed tomato in the market.

Ringim said: “I used the word canning because they hardly take out local tomato to process and sell. All they do is import tomato paste and then can in Nigeria.

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Now, this is where our challenge lies and it is a big challenge for the tomato farmers, either from the Gworonyo or Dadinkowa cultivation stretch, who strive to produce tomato, through thick and thin, with little or no government support.”

He chided the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s decision to restrict importers from using the Nigerian forex market to source funds for importation of some products, saying there are two dimensions to it.

He noted that government had not technically banned the importation of tomatoes, insisting that importers of the product were not adding value to the farmers.