By ThankGod Ogala
The Federal Government has revealed its plans to ban the importation of tomato paste before the end of 2019.
This was disclosed by Minister of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Audu Ogbeh.
Mr Ogbeh said this during a visit to the Dangote Tomato Processing Plant in Kadawa, Kano State.
According to the report, Mr Ogbeh said the ban will encourage massive tomato production.
“The federal government has set aside N250 billion through the Central Bank of Nigeria and Bank Agriculture to payout soft loans to tomato farmers as part of the Anchor Borrower scheme.
“Federal government will continue to encourage Dangote agro-farms and the farmers to grow massive tomatoes in Nigeria and with this kind of outfit, farmers will earn more with better seedlings from the Dangote greenhouse and get better results.
“The farmers will supply to the processor and eventually join tomato breeders in the world. In a short while, Nigeria will simply stop importation and dependence on other sources for tomato supply.”
The CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, who was also on the tour, said “the bank supported Dangote greenhouse with N1.3billion to produce hybrid tomato seedlings to enhance massive local cultivation.
“The greenhouse plant will produce 3 million seedlings which will supply to farmers. With this hybrid tomato seedling, farmers will be able to produce over 70,000 tons per hectare against the 10,000 tons,” he said.
“To this end, this output will encourage farmers to increase their production and provide job opportunity. Let me emphasize the federal government ban on those foods and other items we can produce in this country still remain on the banning list,” he said, according to the report.
Dangote Group, the Nigerian conglomerate owned by Aliko Dangote, launched the $20 million tomato processing facility in early 2016.
The tomato processing plant had a daily production capacity of 1,200 metric tons per day.
But operations at the plant were suspended in 2016 after an invasion by Tuta Absoluta, a leaf-mining moth, which destroyed tomato farms.