By Raheem Akingbolu
GBfoods, a culinary product manufacturing, in partnership with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Kebbi State Government and the Emirate of Yauri, recently built a N20 billion Tomato processing factory, in Kebbi State.
The factory was said to be the second largest in Nigeria and the only fully backward integrated plant in ECOWAS – and has the largest single tomatoes farm in Nigeria.
According to the partners, when all phases of the project are finished, the factory would be the largest fresh tomatoes processing factory in Sub-Saharan Africa.
It was further stated that the investment in the factory and adjoining farm, included a drip irrigation and fertigation infrastructure, greenhouses, seed planting robots, an incubation chambers and a plethora of agricultural machinery.
The CEO of GBfoods Africa, Mr. Vicenç Bosch, was quoted as saying the farm would serve a dual purpose of producing industrial tomatoes in the dry season and soya beans in the raining season.
“The tomato factory will convert fresh tomatoes into tomato concentrate used for producing Gino Tomatoes Paste and Gino Tomato Pepper Onion Paste while the soya bean will be used to process soya-bean oil which is a critical ingredient for GBfoods’ Bama and Jago Mayonnaise.
“The project created over a 1,000 jobs including: 500 farming jobs, 150 factory jobs and 150 construction jobs. GBfoods also engaged many small holder farmers as out-growers. Apart from training the out-growers on good agricultural practices, GBfoods provided them with tomatoes seedlings, agrochemicals and various equipment such as water pumps and hose pipes, enabling the farmers access to water in the dry season.
“GBfoods also supported the host communities by providing and maintaining 16 boreholes of drinking water, a first for some of the surrounding villages,” he said.
He also added that the factory is fully backwardly integrated to the company’s farm and dedicated out-growers.
“In the coming tomatoes season, the plant will also source most of its raw material from out-growers who will grow the tomatoes on their own farms and from GBfoods’ owned and operated farm. The factory is engaging over 5,000 small holder farmers as out-growers, in the coming tomatoes season, to grow fresh tomatoes,” he said.
Bosch commended the federal government for encouraging and supporting GBfoods to engage with CBN, Ministries, Departments and Agencies to ensure the successful completion of the factory. He also expressed gratitude to the Federal Ministry of Industry Trade and Investments, Federal Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Development, Kebbi State Government and the Ngaski Local Government Authorities for their tremendous support towards the actualisation the project.
Bosch added: “Our team of extension workers, consultants and agronomists are ensuring that the Nigerian farmers benefit from the technology transfer of our best practices and know-how built through over 40 years of successful tomato operations in Italy and Spain.”
Speaking during opening of the factory, the Country Manager, GBfoods Nigeria, Mr. Vincent Egbe, said: “The opening of this processing factory is a great milestone for us. It further demonstrates the company’s commitment towards helping Nigeria achieve its food security ambitions, in this case, of self-sufficiency in tomato concentrate production. “We will continue to work with the federal government towards food security and local production and processing of fresh tomatoes.”