With the coming on board of Dangote tomato processing factory in Kano State described as the largest in Africa, Nigeria’s dependence on tomato paste and puree importation may soon come to an end.
This was indicated on Thursday while a team from the Staple Crop Processing Zone Devel opment (SCPZ) of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) was conducted round the 1,200 metric ton installed capacity factory in Kadawa-Bunkure axis of the state.
The team led by Dr. Niyi Odun lami together with officials of the Kano State government noted the visit was part of the ministry’s regular stock-taking on the devel opment of the Kadawa-Bunkure SCPZ, which is now home to the largest tomato factory in Africa.
Odunlami commended Dan gote Group for supporting the SCPZ programme on many of its sites since the inception of Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) of President Goodluck Jonathan.
He stressed the need for sus tained partnership between the agric ministry and Dangote farms and factory in order to transform the rural landscape and facilitate industrial take-off within the rich Kadawa-Bunkure agricultural ter rain.
Odunlami explained further that the agric ministry developed the SCPZ Programme to iden tify major agricultural production clusters, like the Kadawa-Bunkure axis and to designate and appoint a delimited zone for attracting pri vate sector investments into mod ern processing of locally produced crops, livestock, fisheries and re lated agribusiness activities.
He said, “Over two years ago, the Kano State government gave us 250 hectares of land at Gafan for the delimited processing area and promised to develop an independent power plant that will ben efit the SCPZ. The SCPZ develop ment team of the ministry working with the Kano State government and host communities identified the Kadawa-Bunkure axis to serve as a model SCPZ site for tomato, rice and sorghum, three years ago. There was huge post-harvest loss of tomato. That time, farmers embarked on crude preservation method of slicing tomato and leav ing on the bare ground to dry when we first came.
“An experience spanning sev eral decades was prevalent, while Nigeria’s dependence on imported and smuggled tomato paste and puree increased. The ministry contracted the UNIDO to prepare a Master Plan for the development of the Kadawa-Bunkure Model SCPZ. The Plan had since been shared with stakeholders, includ ing discussions at a forum during the World Economic Forum for Africa, WEFA in May 2014 that was attended by the Kano State deputy governor,” Odunlami added.
He disclosed that progress was being made on preparation of de tailed action plans on the model SCPZ.
On the impact of the factory on the lives of people in the neigh bourhood, the state and the nation, Ashwin Patil, a food engineer, as sured that the factory, when fully operational, “will create price sta bility for tomato farmers when they harvest and they will do more than one cropping season hence forth.”
“The presence of the factory will encourage farmers to pro duce more. When farmers’ tomato comes, we are going to give standard prices. With the help of the factory, tomato prices will not suddenly come down. We will show them standard practices so that their produce will increase. We will motivate them to get three crops per year and there will be increased job creation for those involved in the production chain,” Patil assured. Agency report