The Minister of State for Industry, State and Investment, Mrs. Aisha Abubakar, has commended Erisco Foods Limited for its innovative technology to curb wastage of tomatoes.
She gave the commendation during a courtesy visit to the firm’s factory in Lagos recently.
Abubakar said: “Just few weeks ago, we were discussing that nobody was doing anything about the tomato scarcity. Little did we know that something was actually being done. With what I have seen at Erisco, it is really very innovative. I think what is happening at Erisco will open doorway for other fruits and vegetables that are being wasted. Once people see it can be done, they will start investing in it.”
According to Abubakar, the ministry was trying to develop a macro policy for industries, adding that her team would go around, see other factories, engage farmers to identify how best to develop a policy to move the industry forward.
Also the president, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Mr. Frank Udemba Jacobs, said the federal government and MAN often emphasised the need for backward integration as one of the ways the country could achieve economic growth.
“When I took a tour around Erisco Foods’ facilities, I saw an innovation that Erisco should sell to the world,” said Jacobs.
Earlier, Eric Umeofia, founder and chairman, Erisco Foods Limited, said the company was in full support of government’s call for diversification.
Umeofia, however, said the firm still needed government support for survival.
“Erisco Foods is not only producing tomatoes but has diversified to other products. We need the support of the government so that we can do much more,” Umeofia said.
“The government needs to ban the importation of tomato paste to help local producers in the tomato industry. Erisco Foods now produces 45,000 metric tonnes and the only company processing dried tomatoes and converting same to paste.
“Tomatoes that would have been wasted are being dried and processed into paste by Erisco Foods. This has created jobs for people that help in drying fresh tomatoes to preserve them in some states. With what we are doing, we have impacted the lives of rural farmers.”
He also said they had started an out-grower scheme in Kaduna with 2,700 hectares of land.
“If we can covert tomatoes that are being wasted in the country currently due to poor storage facilities, we will be self-sufficient in tomato production in 2016,” Umeofia further said.