Four years after the suspension of production at Kano factory, the Dangote Tomato Processing Plant has resumed operation with a call on the Nigerian government to enforce importation ban on the commodity.
Speaking during the official reopening of the plant in Kano on Wednesday, the Managing Director of the factory, Abdulkarim Kaita, lamented that despite the ban on the tomato paste importation, the commodity was still being smuggled into the country.
According to him, such practice is a snag on the local tomato farmers and industries as a whole, adding that most of the imported tomato pastes are mostly substandard, mixed with additives.
Mr Kaita, however, noted that the enforcement of the ban would consequently boost local production and help the federal government save billions of naira from the cost of importation of such commodities that could be produced locally.
“Our major challenge is the importation of tomato paste. The federal government has banned the importation of tomato paste but the federal government did not enforce the ban, that is why we still see the commodity making its way into our markets. This means it is being smuggled into the country.
“Therefore, I call on the federal government to enforce the ban and ensure that the product is not smuggled into the country anymore. This would save the government billions of naira and improve local industries like ours, as well as improve the income of local farmers.
“That is why we called on the government to enforce the ban on the importation of tomato paste and its smuggling like it did on rice, ” he stressed.
The MD noted 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 tons of fresh tomato per day, equivalent to 40 trucks, but due to the scarcity of the commodity, it would now be operating on at least 100 tons per day.
He expressed optimism that the factory would improve on its production, just as it reached an agreement with the local tomato farmers on the price of tomato that is pegged at market price.