The Vice President of the Dangote Group of Company, Sani Dangote has detailed reasons why they had to shut their tomato plant. He explained that despite the ban on allocating forex to importers of tomato, those importing the products still find it cheaper to do so even if it is at a price of N500.
Here explains why it is cheaper;
“The problem is that there is still a lot of import coming. Even though Central Bank said its not giving any importer dollars to import tomato paste, other countries like China have dropped their prices by 50%, to ensure that even though there is devaluation in Naira, they will be able to sell to those who want to buy through the parallel market.
“With Nigerian government dropping duty to as low at 5%, and China dropping their price to less then 50%, it means that you can even buy dollar at N500 and import tomatoes paste and sell. And if you check the price they are selling, they are selling 70gram at almost N50 naira. By the time you multiply this value they are selling over $2300 per tonne when they are buying it less than $700.
“So the margin is huge. Unless government does something, there is no way we can pay a local farmer who has no capacity compared to Chinese farmers. A farmer here gets only about 12 tonnes per hectare; the Chinese farmer gets over a 100 tonnes supported by government and other supports”.
Enforce Total Ban
He further requested that the President places a total ban on the importation of Tomato and wanted companies that are into retail packaging begin to buy from local producers for them to package and sell.
“The hope is that let the president take the initiative if the ministries have failed to take the initiative. If it gets to the president, am sure he won’t want to see his vision diminished by some bureaucratic process.
“But it’s very unfortunate because thousands of farmers will continue to suffer because of companies that are bent on importing to Nigerian market. Nigeria is a big market for any tomatoes exporter so they will do everything possible to see that tomatoes keep coming to Nigeria unless our government takes the bold step to do the right thing.”