The Managing Director of the Dangote Tomato Processing Factory, Abdulkadir Kaita, on Tuesday, January 3, 2017, disclosed that the company is set to begin the production of tomato pastes in February. This comes eight months after the company suspended operations due to lack of raw materials.
“We expect that tomato farmers would have produced enough for the company to process, hence our decision to resume production in February,” said Abdulkadir Kaita.
It would be recalled that in May 2016, Dangote suspended production due to the shortage of tomatoes in the four producing states in the country. Most of the farmlands across Kano, Jigawa, Plateau, Katsina and Kaduna states were affected by the “Tuta Absoluta” pest attack, which destroyed all the tomatoes species in the farms.
In November, the Vice President of the Dangote Group of Company, Sani Dangote blamed the extended closure of the plant on the importation of tomato paste from China. Despite the actions taken by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to stop selling of forex to importers of tomato paste, the influx of the product is still on the rise. He also said that the importation of the product is cheaper than local production because China has dropped the price of the products by 50 percent in order to meet Nigerian demand.
According to Abdulkadir Kaita, all their trained staff are still with them and they are being paid their salary. He further said that if there is a need to recruit additional staff, the company will do so to ensure effective service delivery.
A look at the Dangote tomatoes paste factory
The $20 million tomato processing facility in Kano state, northern Nigeria was launched in 2016. The tomato processing plant has a daily production capacity of 1,200 metric tonnes per day, and will primarily buy tomatoes from farmers.
The factory is the size of 10 football pitches set within 17,000 hectares of irrigated fields, will directly employ 120 people. It is also expected to produce about 430,000 tonnes of tomato pastes annually, which is a significant ingredient in most local Nigerian dishes such as Jollof rice, stew and many kinds of soup.
This plant will help save tonnes of tomatoes from rotting away in the Nigerian market. According to the country’s Ministry of Agriculture, Nigeria produces about 1.5 million tonnes of tomatoes a year, but over 900,000 tonnes is lost to rot.
Quick facts about the tomatoes industry in Nigeria
- Nigeria is the 14th largest producer of tomatoes in the world.
- It is the largest producer of tomatoes in sub-Saharan Africa.
- It is the eighth largest importer of tomato paste in the world after Iraq and Japan.
- The country has a significant demand for processed tomatoes but almost half of the tomato pastes found in its markets have been imported from China and Italy.
- In 2015, the Director General and CEO of the Raw Material and Research and Development Council (RMRDC), Dr. Hussaini Ibrahim, revealed that Nigeria spends about $1.5 billion annually on tomato product-importation from China and other parts of the world.