Okechukwu Enelamah, minister of industry, trade and investment, says the new federal government tomato policy will stop the importation of tomato paste. Speaking during a visit to GB Foods Nigeria’s tomato backward integration project in Kaduna, the minister assured that the government is committed to boosting tomato production.
During an earlier visit to Dangote Tomato Processing Plant, Audu Ogbeh, the minister of agriculture and rural development, had expressed the government’s willingness to ban tomato paste importation. In a bid to diversify the economy and boost local production, the federal government had restricted the importation of rice while the Central Bank of Nigeria restricted forex for the importation of 43 items including fertilizer, textiles and toothpicks.
Enelamah said the implementation of the policy would also open up investment in greenhouse farming and address some challenges faced by tomato farmers in the country. “I like what I saw and I am highly impressed,” he said. “When we see genuine investors, ours is to help them grow.”
In his comments, Francis Ogboro, chairman of GB Food Africa, the company has so far spent over N2 billion on the backward integration project on the farm in the procurement of tractors, high tech farming equipment for seedling, planting, harvesting and processing of the tomato paste among others. The project also consists of four hectares of Greenhouse seedlings; 16 hectares of tomato planted, all of which have created over 50 jobs.
He said, GBFoods Africa’s investments in Nigeria will make a significant positive socio and economic impact, including: the creation of 1,500 jobs, empowerment of more than 3,000 farmers; reduction of foreign currency demand; increased tax revenue; increased productivity of the tomato industry by a minimum of 60MT/Ha; and reduced food imports.