Nigeria Can Save N11.7bn On Importation Of Tomato Paste | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Nigeria Can Save N11.7bn On Importation Of Tomato Paste

tomato paste
Posted: Mar 8, 2016 at 1:30 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Local manufacturers of tomato paste say the country can save as much as N11.7 billion if they get government’s support. To that effect, the Managing Director of Sonia Food Industries, Mr. Nnamdi Nnodebe, has urged the Federal Government to grant indigenous manufacturers a window of 18 months during which they will backwardly integrate, but will during that time continue to access foreign exchange.

It would be recalled that under the new foreign exchange policy regime, 41 items have been barred from access to foreign exchange, necessary for the purchase of raw materials for processing and production of finished goods.

Nnodebe made the call during a factory tour of the Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Mr. Bimbo Ashiru, while on a tour of some manufacturing firms in the state.

According to Nnodebe, this development has become a challenge and has left manufacturers groaning under the weight of the current policy which has made it difficult for them to access raw materials.

“I am very confident, if given this allowance it will work together for our good and for the economy, because Sonia Foods can complete a tomato factory farm, requisite for processing tomato concentrate, within 2 years.”

He is, however, optimistic about the prospects, hence he also prevail on the Federal Government to allow more time, to enable manufacturers achieve backward integration.

Also speaking, Manufacturers’ Association of Nigeria (MAN) President, Dr. Frank Jacobs, echoed the words of Nnodebe as he said, “18 months window is what manufacturers of tomato need to move the sector forward. Backward integration is paramount on the mind of tomato producers, and it would only be ideal to support them, actualise this ambition for the good of our economy, as you well know once this is actualised, jobs would be created and more importantly exports would start to happen because Nigeria has the potential to become leading exporter of concentrates, if given the prerequisite support”.

“One way we could make this happen is partner the northern states, since tomato cultivation thrives in the North where it finds favourable climate. Governors in the North should endeavour to work together with credible manufacturers like Sonia Foods, to speedily achieve backward integration. Nigeria is the second highest producer of tomato in Africa and 13th in the world. Still, it spends N11.7 billion naira a year, on importation of tomato paste.

“Sadly, about 750,000 of the tomatoes harvested in Nigeria, go to waste, as a result of poor Food Supply Chain (FSC) management; price instability, and the supply preference of farmers and middlemen for urban markets than processors due to low farm gate prices”.

Jacobs explained that the solution to this challenge is provide an avenue where, Nigerian manufacturers of tomato paste can harness this yield for paste production, thereby encouraging the farmers smile while equally keeping them gainfully and positively engaged.

In response to the call, the Ogun State government pledged its firm support especially for manufacturers within the state, saying they will give the required support to enable them thrive by taking the manufacturers’ case to the federal ministries of finance, industry, trade and investment.

According to him, the state government will do its best to help ensure that they are supported and encouraged. He also used the opportunity to inform them that government is also working on the roads and infrastructure to make the state more conducive to investment.

He said, “We have started work on the Shagamu Road and some of the Federal Government roads as well. Most of the roads we are doing in Ogun State are Federal Government roads but there are no Federal Government people.

“Our government is committed to creating the enabling environment through good road network because if they are producing all these goods and we don’t have good road network, the goods are dead on arrival. We are also building bridges in order to reduce the traffic.”

Ashiru, who also visited the Sonia factory in Shagamu, expressed satisfaction at the level of manufacturing and employment provided by the firm.

“I am impressed that Nigerians are able to think inwards and produce locally. The owners of Sonia have been able to demonstrate best practices in their production and are creating over 4000 direct and indirect jobs,” he said.

The commissioner stressed the need for synergy between manufacturers along the value chain, adding that manufacturers should patronise their counterparts across sectors in order to cut down on importation and high cost of production.

He stated, “We are allocating lands to industries in the same line of raw materials and production so that they can take advantage of forward and backward integration and business can be easy for all our investors in Ogun State”.