IN DECEMBER 2015,
Mrs Sarah Smith, like most
women, agonised over the
high cost of tomatoes in the
market which marred her
Christmas shopping due to
paucity of funds arising from
the economic downturn of the
country.
However, upon her visit to
the market in February 2016,
she was dumbfounded by the
reduced price of a basket of
tomatoes occasioned by the
alarming glut of the produce.
She said: “In December, I
bought a basket of tomatoes
from Mile 12 market at N21,
000, a produce I had bought
between N6,500 and N8,000 in
the previous months.
“Now, a basket of tomatoes
goes for between N2,500 and
N4,000 in the same market
due to excess supply leading
to huge waste of the produce
because of its perishable
nature.
“How I wish I could buy a lot
and store in my freezer for the
rainy season when tomatoes
are usually pricey, but the
epileptic power supply in the
country will not allow that’’.
This situation is one of
the many that tomato price
fluctuations has caused, raising
concerns to many homemakers
for a pragmatic approach
to reduce waste through
preservation of the excess
produce.
According to the Federal
Ministry of Agriculture and
Rural Development, FMARD,
Nigeria is the 13th largest
producer of tomato in the
world and the second after
Egypt in Africa.
Nigeria has a domestic
demand for tomatoes put at 2.3
million tons, while it produces
only 1.8 million tons annually.
However, due to the
dysfunctional agricultural
value chain system, about
50 per cent of the tomato
produced is wasted due to lack
of preservation, poor handling
system, poor distribution
channels and lack of easy
access to markets.
The situation has resulted in
tomato waste of over 750, 000
tonnes and an import bill of
N16 billion annually to make
up for the shortfall in local
production.
According to experts, the
panacea to reduce tomato waste
is to preserve the excess supply
through local processing into
juice, paste, ketchup, puree
and powder form.
The country’s Ministry of
Agriculture puts the annual
local demand for tomato paste
at 900,000 tonnes.
Sadly, Nigeria is forced to
rely on import of tomato puree,
mostly from China because of
lack of adequate processing
plants.
Currently, most of the
tomato processing plants in
Nigeria are non- functional,
ranging from Manto Tomato
Processing Plant in Gombe
State and Wanunne Tomato
Processing Plant in Benue.
Others are Galf Tomato
Factory in Jigawa State, Lau
Tomato Processing Company
in Taraba, Savannah Integrated
in Borno and Perfect Integrated
Foods Industry Ltd situated in
Ondo State.
Data from FMARD reveals
that the non-functional plants
have processing and packaging
capacities ranging from 7.0
to 1,050 metric tons of tomato
paste per day.
Unarguably, lack of tomato
import control, unstable power
supply, inadequate assessment
of market and supply chain
channels are some identified
factors that led to the absence
of processing plants.
To mitigate these problems
and ensure wastage is curtailed
during glut, indigenous
companies have risen to the
challenge by reviving one
of the moribund processing
plants and investing in the
industry.
Notably, the Ikara Food
Processing Plant in Kaduna
which had been moribund
for over two decades was
resuscitated in 2014 through
a Public-Private Partnership
between the state government
and Springfield Agro Ltd.
The Ikara Tomato Company
was established in 1981 by the
Balarabe Musa administration.
The company has an installed
capacity for processing 16,950
tons of tomato and 700 hectares
of land purposely for tomato
farming.
As at today, the company’s
tomato paste production from
fresh tomatoes is put at 20
metric tons daily.
Following the trail of Ikara
Food Company in tomato
processing in Nigeria is Erisco
Foods Ltd.
The Chief Executive Officer
of Erisco Foods, Chief Eric
Umeofia, said the plant has an
installed production capacity
of 450,000 metric tonnes per
annum in its Lagos factory alone,
making it the biggest in Africa
and 4th largest in the world.
“The Erisco Foods revolution
in tomato paste production
will stop the annual wastages
by over 75 per cent of fresh
tomatoes across Nigeria.
“If we continue with the
good policies of the present
administration, there will
be nothing like tomato glut
anywhere in Nigeria in the
next two years.
“We as off-taker will produce
and process to meet our local
demands and export to earn
foreign exchange provided
government continues to
support manufacturing.
“Our backward integration
programmes planned
for Jigawa, Sokoto and
Katsina states will generate
employment and prosperity
for 50,000 Nigerians within
three years,’’ said Umeofia.
Also, Dangote Industries
Ltd is not left out of the drive
to boost the industrial sector
of the economy with the
establishment of Dangote
Tomato Factory in Kadawa,
Kano State.
The plant, which will begin
operation in March, has a
production capacity of 430,000
metric tonnes of paste per
annum.
The factory requires 40
trailers of fresh tomatoes (1,
200 MT) each day to run at full
capacity.
To strengthen the supply
chain needed to improve
tomato processing, the factory
is collaborating with GEMS4
and the Tomato Growers
Association in Kano.
Kano farmers supplying the
factory means more sales, less
waste and year-long demand
for tomatoes even during the
oversupply period.
Growth and Employment in
States — Wholesale and Retail
Sector (GEMS4) facilitates
links between farmers and
processing companies such
as Dangote Factory and Ikara
Food Company.
Its reach targets 100,000
farmers in Kaduna and Kano
states.
GEMS4 is a 17 million pound
market development project
in Nigeria, funded by the
World Bank and the U.K’s
Department for International
Development.
Its mandate is to facilitate
market system changes to
address identified constraints
to encourage economic growth,
resulting in the creation of
10,000 new jobs and increased
incomes for 500,000 people,
especially for the poor rural
dwellers and women.
GEMS4 has been in
implementation since 2012 and
will be in operation until July
2017.
The project employs a
“Making Markets Work for
the Poor (M4P)’’ approach
to implement initiatives that
facilitates entry into markets.
It also provides technical
support for the adoption
of innovations, new
business models and
leverage investments for the
development of key market
facilities to support optimal
business performance.
Mr Richard Ogundele,
Intervention Manager for
GEMS4, said that linking
tomato farmers to processing
plants initiative creates
increased business choices for
farmers by facilitating business
linkages between small scale
tomato farmers and tomato
processing plants.
It enables them to serve each
other on a commercial basis.
“The initiative also builds the
capacity of farmers in good
handling practices which
ensures that incomes increase
across the value chain.
“Proper handling,
packaging and protection of
their produce in a way that
ensures quality, extends shelflife
and preserves sales value.
“Good quality produce
attracts higher retail prices and
financial losses from produce
damage is prevented.’’
Similarly, an economist, Mr
Adeoye Abiodun, decried
Nigeria’s status as the largest
importer of tomatoes as
detrimental to economic
growth and protection of local
investments.
He said: “Available data
reveals that the country has
the wherewithal to meet
local demands and even
become a net exporter of the
commodity.
“Importation of tomato
paste to fill the local demand
gap could be reversed with
the right measures targeted at
eliminating waste in the value
chain’’.
Also, the Secretary to the
Government of the Federation,
Mr Babachir Lawal, said
government would continue
to support the growth of
indigenous businesses,
especially in this period of
economic downturn.
He said that the current
economic reality calls for
a decisive policy thrust to
address issues which must be
realistic enough to leverage
upon.
“The major concern of
government in this present
circumstance is to continue
to make policies and reforms
as well as restore confidence
to stabilise the economic
fundamentals and to provide
the necessary infrastructure
for industries to thrive on.
“Furthermore, government
will continue to intervene in
policy formulation towards
protecting our national
interest and in the process
providing a conducive
atmosphere that will make
production in Nigeria
profitable, attractive and
worth engaging in,’’ Lawal
said.
Industry stakeholders have
identified some strategies for
entrenching a realistic and
sustainable tomato processing
plant as government
formulating policy on import
restriction of processed
tomato products.
Others are increased
investments in Research
and Development (R&D)
to produce improved
seed varieties, develop
technologies for storage
system and good handling
practices for the produce.
With its position as the 13th
world largest producer of
tomato and second in Africa,
Nigeria stands the chance to
boost its economy from this
agricultural produce through
export, especially in this era of
diversification.
The government should
also ensure that farmers are
aided to produce the enough
to sustain the revived and the
upcoming processing plants
so that wastage could be
stopped and enough produced
for local consumption and
export. NAN


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