The Managing Director of Dangote Tomato Processing Plant, Abdulkarim Kaita, has called on the Federal Government to enforce ban on importation of tomato paste for local processing factories to thrive.
Mr Kaita made the call at a press conference organised to mark the reopening of the Dangote tomato factory in Kano state, North west, Nigeria after it suspended production for about four years.
According to him, the tomato paste is still smuggled into the country through different boarders, despite the federal government ban.
He lamented that the importation of the product was a discouragement to farmers in the country.
However, Mr Kaita noted that the ban would help the federal government save billions of naira from the cost of importation of commodities that could be produced locally and at the same time boost domestic production.
He also said that the imported tomato paste are mostly substandard, mixed with additives, while those produced at the Dangote factory are 100% pure without any additional ingredients.
“Our major challenge is importation of tomato paste. The federal government has banned the importation of tomato paste but the federal government has not enforced the ban, that is why we still see the commodity making its way into our markets. This mean it is being snuggled into the country.
“That is why we called on the government to enforce importation of tomato paste and its smuggling like they did on rice, “ he said.
The MD explained that the Dangote tomato industry, located in Kura Local Government area of Kano State was established to help local farmers reduce losses incurred from rots as a result of lack of modern preservation techniques.
Mr Kaita also revealed that, at the beginning the factory was producing 1,200 tones of fresh tomato per day, equivalent to 40 trucks, but due to scarcity if the commodity, it would now be operating on at least 100 tone a day.
He expressed optimism that the factory would improve on its production, just as it reached agreement with the local tomato farmers on the price of tomato that is pegged at market price.