Ibrahim Shuaibu in Kano
Dangote Tomatoes Processing Plant has established a N3 billion Green House nursery in Kano, designed to process over 300 to 350 million tons of hybrid tomato seedlings expected to make Nigeria self-sufficient in tomatoes production.
The Managing-Director of the Farm, Mr. Abdulkarim Lawal Kaita, said that the Green House Nursery would facilitate increased production of high quality seedlings which the company plans to roll out to tomatoes farmers to both production of fresh tomatoes and locally made tomatoes paste in the country.
Kaita told reporters yesterday that, for the Federal Government to sustain the new quest for consumption of locally made farm produce for exportation, there was need to place a total ban on the importation of fresh and processed tomatoes, as the company has the capacity to produce for both domestic consumption and exports.
According to him, the company’s new investment in production of fresh and processed tomatoes was capable of stopping the over $350 million the Federal Government was spending annually on the importation of processed tomatoes.
He stated that Nigeria consumes 2.3 million tons of tomato paste, “but we have the capacity to produce 8 million tons annually, exceeding local consumption. You can now imagine how much the country can make on foreign exchange.”
Kaita also added that the farm which is fully automated was the largest and first of its kind in West Africa, pointing out that the Farm was expected to enhance the economy of the local tomato farmers, as the technology was expected to increase their harvest from the current 10 tons per acre to as much as 40 tons per acre.
“The management of the Dangote Tomatoes Processing Limited which is a subsidiary of Dangote Farms is excited to reveal the tremendous effort that we are making to ensure that Nigeria becomes self –sufficient in tomato production.
“The planting medium you are looking at is called PAT MOOSE which has the capacity of producing 350 million seedling per season that can be used to plant an estimated 12,000 hectares of tomato farm.
“We are glad to disclose that we are the first to bring this new technology into the country and this is going to fast track the yield of our tomato farmers tremendously.
“The project is being executed under the CBN Tomato Anchor-Borrowers Programme. The CBN will be paying for the seedling that we are cultivating, and it will be distributed to farmers.
“The PAT MOOSE process you are seeing takes three weeks, after which it goes to the next stage, and the whole process of growing the tomato takes just three months,” he explained.
Shedding more light into the value addition which the Green House farm would provide, Kaita, noted that the introduction of the technology would put an end to post-harvest losses, as well as increase the volume of harvest of the commodity.
He further explained that the introduction of the technology would lead to expansion of production of the commodity, beyond the over 2.5 million tons current consumption demand.
“Based on study under the GEMS project, from the 12 States that engage in massive tomato production, there is over 171,000 hectares of land for tomato production, and if you multiply this with the over 40 tons which the technology is capable of producing per hectare, that means we can grow our production to around 8 million tons.
“With this in the next two years, if Government effect the ban on the importation of the commodity, just as it has been done in the case of rice, Nigeria will soon become a net exporter of the commodity.”