The Chief Executive Officer, Erisco Foods Limited, Mr. Eric Umeofia has urged the federal government to increase its support for the agricultural and manufacturing sectors.
Speaking at the ground-breaking ceremony for Erisco Foods’s Multi–billion naira, rice, groundnuts, maize farm and tomato processing plant in Katsina State, recently, Umeofia decried the activities of nefarious foreigners and those he described as their unpatriotic Nigerian collaborators, who import substandard tomato paste into the country and urged the federal government to immediately put a ban on the importation and dumping of fake products in the country.
He however commended the efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari towards economic diversification and advised the government to ensure that only Nigerians and genuine foreign investors who can look inwards to stop the wastage of over 75 per cent of harvested fresh tomatoes in the country.
Umeofia said: “Clearly, government needs to seriously show more support to the agricultural and manufacturing sector of the economy if we are serious about creating jobs and diversifying the economy.
He said: “Our case is for government to create a level playing field for indigenous manufacturers, agriculturists and also for genuine foreign investors. Government should compel tomato paste importers to invest in tomato processing in Nigeria so as to provide more jobs for our people and this will save and also earn Nigeria the much needed foreign exchange.”
He added: “Our new technology of conversion of fresh and dried tomatoes to paste will resolve this paradox if we and other local manufacturers are supported by government adequately, as Erisco Foods Limited has spent over N4 billion in buying both fresh and dried tomatoes that ought to have wasted (as usual) for our industrial need.”
Umeofia also identified lack of foreign exchange, lack of low interest rate loan, hostility from MDAs and continuous importation of tomato paste as some challenges facing the country.
Further he said: “The federal government should ban the importation of items like tomato paste and other food products that can be produced locally, just like EU, China and some other countries do. There is need to empower our economy especially the Northern part of our country that produces more food for Nigerians.
“There is urgent need for our northern governors to do more to industrialise the northern part of the country being the place that local raw materials are available as industrialising Nigeria in equal base is a task for all other regions governors.
“The federal government should ensure the robust funding of genuine manufacturers, agriculture etc in order to truly diversify the economy.
“Federal, State and Local governments should provide infrastructures like roads, electricity, reinforcement of industrial estates etc in order to reduce the cost of producing the items needed locally. This will make our locally produced products competitive in the international market,” he said.