The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah, has disclosed that the Federal Government spends over $170 million every year on importation of tomato.
Speaking with the media in his office on Tuesday, in Abuja, Enelamah stated that “Nigeria imports an average of 150,000 metric tons of tomato concentrate per annum, valued at $170 million mostly due to inadequacy in capacity to produce tomato concentrate.”
He noted that current demand for fresh tomato was estimated at about 2.45 million metric tons per annum (MTPA), while the country produces only about 1.8 million, adding that despite the supply gap, about 40 per cent of fresh tomato produced in the country was lost due to wastage arising from poor post-harvest handling and inadequate storage.
The minister, however, said the ministry was committed to sustainable investment in the entire value chain of tomato sub-sector, noting in addition that agriculture and agro-allied processing were priority areas for achieving the ministry’s plan for growth and diversification.
Enelamah stated that to curtail the heavy import of tomato, the ministry had put in place policies that would arrest tomato shortage in the country and also open up the many job opportunities in the sector.
He noted that the tomato sector policy was developed and was being implemented in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Federal Ministry of Finance, Federal Ministry of Water Resources, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Bank of Industry (BoI) and the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).
Enelamah explained that “these measures will ultimately accelerate the growth of the manufacturing industry and deepens diversification. The new policy is expected to create at least 60,000 additional jobs in fresh fruit production and processing,” he stated.
The new policy objectives is to increase local production of fresh tomato fruit required for fresh fruit consumption and processing; increase local production of tomato concentrate and reduce post-harvest losses.
The Minister of State Industry, Trade and Investment, Aisha Abubakar, who was also at the meeting, expressed the commitment of the ministry in making local tomato production viable.
She stated that efforts required in cutting off tomato waste in the country demanded multiple hands, as she commended the African Development Bank for making finance available to SMEs.