The Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, has suspended the production of tomato paste in his newly commissioned Tomato Processing Factory in Kadawa, Kano State as a result of scarce availability of it’s most important raw material – fresh tomatoes.
The Managing Director of the factory, Abdulkadir Kaita, who disclosed this to News Agency of Nigeria on Friday said that several tomato farms in Kano, Jigawa, Plateau, Katsina and Kaduna states (all located in Nigeria’s northern region), were affected by Tuta Absoluta, a leaf mining moth and common tomato pest, which destroyed all the tomato farms – a situation that has resulted in scarcity and higher prices for the commodity.
Mr. Kaita however said that production would resume during the next irrigation season.
Recall: The Dangote Group launched the $20 million tomato processing facility in Kano state, northern Nigeria earlier this year. The tomato processing plant has a daily production capacity of 1,200 metric tones per day, and primarily buys tomatoes from farmers in the Kadawa Valley in Kano state and pays them a guaranteed price of about $700 per ton of tomatoes.
In a quest to diversify Nigeria’s economy by focusing on agricultural produce, an agricultural expert on tomatoes, Mr. Donald Abraham, advised the country to turn to tomatoes as part of the easy ways to restore agriculture as the mainstay of the economy and economic diversification.
According to Mr. Abraham,
“A recent survey has revealed that most of the tomato brands in the market are imported and that the presence of local brands is scarcely noticeable. It is in the light of this that the processing of tomato fruits into concentrated tomato paste, juice, ketchup, sauce, etc. is being highlighted as a profitable investment opportunity.”
It was also estimated that the country’s yearly harvest of fresh tomatoes is more than enough to support over 50 processing plants with the rated capacity each of 10 metric tonnes of fresh tomatoes per hour working 8 hours per shift per day and for 250 days a year. But that between 35 per cent and 40 per cent of the total agricultural produce is lost due to absence or non-provision of processing facilities, hence the Aliko Dangote Group’s Tomato Processing Plant.