The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has mobilised and validated 140,848 tomato farmers for the Anchor Borrowers Programme.
The CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, disclosed this at the ground-breaking ceremony of Tomato Jos at Kangimi community in Kaduna on Monday.
Tomato Jos is an American-owned company aimed at transforming smallholder farmers from subsistence growers into commercial producers.
The company has 500 hectares of land with the potential to cultivate tomatoes of 400 hectares and it is expected to begin production in 2021.
Emefiele said the beneficial farmers were selected from various Tomato Farmers Associations across 25 states in the country.
He explained that the farmers would be linked to proximal processors where applicable, or financed to produce fresh fruits for direct consumption, which constituted the largest use of tomato in the country.
“We are also partnering with other big players in the tomato value chain like Dangote Tomato Processing Ltd, Sonia Foods, GB Foods (GBF), Vegefresh Company Ltd and a host of others.
“This is with a view to ensuring that Nigeria becomes self-sufficient in tomato, and our processing companies, functioning at full capacity and employing millions of Nigerian youths.
“My presence here today is a demonstration of CBN’S preparedness to partner with the private sector to facilitate the development of Nigeria’s agricultural sector through our various programmes and schemes like Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme (CACS), Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP).
“Others like Micro Small and Medium Enterprises Development Fund (MSMEDF), Agri-business/Small and Medium Enterprises Investment Scheme (AGSMEIS) among others” he said.
Emefiele commended the management of Tomato Jos company for flagging off this processing plant which has the potential of creating employment for hundreds of Kaduna State indigenes and other Nigerians in general.
He expressed hope that the management of the company would remain focused and not be compromised so as to ensure the sustainability of the project. (NAN)