By Asma’u Halilu
The Central Bank of Nigeria CBN says it is committed to promoting tomato value chain to meet the need of Nigerians and to also address the shortfall of about 1.2 million tons valued at about 2.5 billion dollars annually.
The CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele stated this at the ground breaking ceremony of Tomato Jos at Kangimi community in Kaduna.
Tomato Jos is an American owned company aimed at transforming small holder farmers from subsistence growers to commercial producers.
The company has a 500 hectres of land with potentials to cultivate tomato of 400 hectres which is expected to begin production in 2021.
Emefiele explained that the annual production of tomato in the Country was estimated at about 1.701 million tons while annual consumption was at 2.93 million tonnes.
Importation and smuggling
He said the shortfall of 1.2 million tonnes were met through importation and smuggling.
He mentioned that tomato was among the commodities that played an important role in the demand for foreign exchange in the economy.
The Governor called for a holistic approach to tackle these and other related challenges bedeviling the tomato value chain.
“The CBN, as far back as June 2015, before the current tomato policy was approved in 2017, had excluded importers of 41 items from accessing foreign exchange at the Nigerian foreign exchange (forex) markets, to encourage local production.
“One of the items declared not valid for forex was tomatoes and tomato paste in which the import bill, at the time, was significantly contributing to the pressure on the forex reserves.”
“Pursuant to the above, we introduced the Commodity Champion model in the first quarter of 2019, to stimulate production of tomato and strengthen the end-to-end linkages in the value chain from input supplies to the final Consunmer,” he said.
The Governor said the strategy adopted was largely hinged on the twin approaches of out-grower contractual arrangement in the short to medium term, and backward integration in the medium to long term.
Emefiele noted that the flag-off of Tomato Jos Processing Plant, marked a key milestone in bank’s intervention in the agricultural sector which was a manifestation that the multi-faceted commodity approach adopted was yielding positive outcomes.
The US Ambassador to Nigeria, Ms Mary Leonard congratulated the management of the company for the initiative.
Leonard said the United States Mission in Nigeria was happy and proud of this development brought to Nigeria.
She said the US was ready to support Nigeria in its course to promote Agriculture and other key areas, to achieve its developmental agenda.
The event was attended by Governor Nasir El-Rufai, CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele, US Ambassador to Nigeria, Ms Mary Leonard and Mr John Coumantaros, Chairman of Flour Mills of Nigeria among other notable personalities.