It has been revealed that the Nigerian government spent about $1 billion on importation of tomato paste, while over 75 per cent of tomatoes are wasted in the country because of lack of storage facilities.
The United Nations Environmental Programme, UNEP, disclosed this at the weekend during the official inauguration of the Nigeria branch of Ecosystem-Based Adaptation for Food Security Assembly, EBAFOSA.
UNEP African Regional Coordinator, Dr. Richard Munang, at the event expressed regrets that about 240 million people in the continent of Africa go to bed hungry and that malnutrition was high, affecting nearly 200 million people which in turn resulted in the death of over 50 per cent of children below five years.
Thankfully though, tomato farmers in Nigeria and specifically in Kano state may now have a new story and a reason to smile soon, as well as also overcome the uncertainties surrounding tomato business and wastes.
Last week, Africa’s richest man, Alhaji Aliko Dangote with his very diversified business conglomerate expanded operations into the food sector more, as it launched a tomato processing plant in Kano State, which is considered to be the largest in Africa.
The tomato processing plant, built at an estimated cost of $20 million (N4 billion), will produce over 400,000 tonnes of tomato paste annually. It is expected to reduce Nigeria’s dependence on imported tomato paste.
Tomato farmers will receive a guaranteed price of about $700 (N140,000) per tonne compared to the current average price of $350 (N70,000), according to estimates by the Central Bank of Nigeria.
The Federal Ministry of Agriculture estimates that Nigeria has an annual demand for tomato paste of about 900,000 tonnes.
Similarly in recent developments on food imports and exports in the country, there may be indications that the ban on exportation of beans produce to European Union countries, EU, imposed on Nigeria by the European Food Safety Authority, will be lifted by June this year.
The European Food Safety Authority had in mid-2015 banned some agricultural produce which included beans from Nigeria, because the rejected beans were found to contain between 0.03mg per kilogramme to 4.6mg/kg of dichlorvos pesticide, when the acceptable maximum residue limit is 0.01mg/kg.
Over the weekend, an EU/Dutch team visited the Central Laboratory of the National Agency for Food Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC, in Lagos.
The team were in the country to inspect the procedures of the regulatory agency to ensure that future export of beans and other agricultural produce from Nigeria meet the standards of importing countries.