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Perennial shortage of raw materials is shutting down Nigeria’s tomato-processing plants

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Tomato processing in Nigeria

The perennial shortage of tomatoes in Nigeria has been identified as one of the factors behind the shutting down of tomato paste factories in the country. The Group Managing Director of Kewalram-Chanrai Group, Mr. Victor Eburajolo, recently disclosed this to journalists during the Institute of Directors Nigeria (IoD) induction in Lagos.

Eburajolo stated that tomato shortage, which worsens once the harvest season ends, directly affects his organization – Ikara Food processing Plant in Kaduna; thereby forcing them to source raw materials from smallholders.

Other tomato-processing plants have had to shut down

Unfortunately, some tomato processing plants in the country have not been so lucky. In 2016, Nigeria’s biggest tomato paste plant, Erisco Foods Limited, began the process of shutting down its $150bn plant, resulting in reduced output per production. This decision was informed by what the company’s CEO,  Eric Umeofia, called lack of government support. Nigeria was at this time embroiled in a serious economic recession which was caused by poor oil prices, low foreign reserves, and high exchange rates.

Manufacturing companies like Erisco Foods Limited struggled to access foreign exchange. This is despite the government’s effort to provide forex windows for investors and exporters.

It should be noted that in the case of Erisco Foods Limited, the company was most-affected because it depended largely on the importation of raw materials and machinery for its operations. The company’s need to import raw materials was due to the constant shortage of locally-sourced materials. This, therefore, highlights the serious challenges some tomato processing plants in the country are currently facing.

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Note that nearly two thousand Nigerians lost their job as a result of Erisco’s exit from Nigeria. The company currently operates from a factory in China, exporting its finished goods into Nigeria.

Tomato processing in Nigeria

Chart showing months when tomato produce is high and months when it is low.

What is responsible for the shortages?

The causes of tomato-shortage in Nigeria can range from post-harvest wastage to poor distribution channels and poor technology utilization. According to an Agriculture Entrepreneur, Kabir Lawal, who spoke to Nairametrics on this subject, other factors responsible for the shortage include:

  • Lack of knowledge of value chain
  • Low yield varieties
  • Use of poor packaging materials
  • The lack of access to alternative markets
  • Pricing and seasonality
  • Poor data usage in the farming process, and
  • Infrastructural challenges

Most farmers do not know the proper time to harvest. They and other value chain actors also do not understand the concept of sorting and grading tomatoes by color (ripeness) and size to derive the most value from the product.

The predominant packaging material is the raffia basket which is ergonomically unsuitable for the packaging of a delicate vegetable such as tomatoes. These baskets squash tomatoes during stacking thereby making the farmers and traders lose significant portions of the harvest. Plastic crates are yet to become mainstream in the industry. -Kabir Lawal

What does this mean?

Already, perennial tomato shortages have necessitated the exit of big processing companies such as Erisco Food Limited. Currently, the country imports most of its tomato pastes from countries such as China and Malaysia. This is unfortunate, in the sense that the country has the potential to create wealth through tomato processing while providing sources of employment to the youths.

In the meantime, however, the country will continue to miss out on said economic opportunities until both the government and private investors decide to act accordingly.

 

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Emmanuel is a professional writer and business journalist, with interests covering Banking & Finance, Mergers and Acquisitions, Corporate Profiles, Brand Communication, Fintech, and MSMEs. He initially joined Nairametrics as an all-round Business Analyst, but later began focusing on and covering the financial services sector. He has also held various leadership roles, including Senior Editor, QAQC Lead, and Deputy Managing Editor. Emmanuel holds an M.Sc in International Relations from the University of Ibadan, graduating with Distinction. He also graduated with a Second Class Honours (Upper Division) from the Department of Philosophy & Logic, University of Ibadan. If you have a scoop for him, you may contact him via his email- [email protected] You may also contact him through various social media platforms, preferably LinkedIn and Twitter.

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Oba Otudeko: A self-made billionaire entrepreneur

Courtesy of his several businesses, Otudeko is currently ranked among the richest men in Nigeria.

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Nigeria’s manufacturing sector has some of the most influential and richest men in the country. Among them, the name of Dr. Oba Otudeko rings a special bell.

Though he started out in the banking sector, he is now a notable personality in the manufacturing sector, creating thousands of jobs along the value chain and improving local production for the country.

This week on Nairametrics’ founders profile, we bring you Obafunke Otudeko’s life achievements and how he has attained such heights.

Early life

Ayoola Obafunke Otudeko was born into a royal family on August 18, 1943, in Odogbolu, present-day Ogun state. This perhaps explains why close friends sometimes jokingly refer to him as “the only Oba without a palace.”

He had his early education at St. John’s School, Oke Agbo, Ijebu-Igbo in Ogun State, and Olivet Baptist High School, Oyo, before he travelled out to study Accountancy in Leeds College of Commerce, Yorkshire, UK.

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After returning to Nigeria, Otudeko took a bank employment as a clerk in the defunct Co-operative Bank, Ibadan. Over the next two decades, he moved through the ranks to become the General Manager and acting Chief Executive Officer of the Bank. He voluntarily retired from the bank in 1983 and was appointed a Director to the Board of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

His foray into the business world

Having a mother who was a businesswoman, Otudeko always knew he would someday go into business. His retirement from the bank gave him the time to pursue this interest.

It was at this time that Honeywell Enterprises started off as a trading enterprise, importing and marketing commodities between the northern and southern states of Nigeria in the 1970s. The company later grew into Honeywell Group, one of Nigeria’s leading indigenous conglomerates.

To sharpen his business skills, he took several courses from several international institutions, which include the International Institute for Management Development, Switzerland, Harvard Business School, Boston, USA, Hult International Business School, and Arthur D. Little School of Management, USA.

His many businesses

From a flour mill, the Honeywell Group has evolved into a conglomerate with different subsidiaries in different sectors of the economy.

HOGL Energy Limited is in the oil and gas sector, and was incorporated in 1995. As an indigenous oil and gas marketing company. The company procures, imports, and distributes fuels and gases, as well as lubricants which it produces for industrial and domestic uses.

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Honeywell Flour Mills Plc is a food processing company focused on flour-based products including baking flour, ball foods, noodles and pasta. The company started operations in 1998.

Pivot Energy Company Limited (PECL) is in the business of providing engineering, procurement and construction services to the power industry.

RealUraga RealEstate Limited is in the real estate sector, providing funding, whilst managing and developing properties and facilities across the country.

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Anchorage Leisures Limited makes its investments in the tourism and hospitality sector, and runs the 5 star Radisson Blu Anchorage Hotel in Victoria Island.

Pavilion Technology Limited provides security services to individuals and clients in public and private space, from electronic security systems, to manned guards, escort services, and security consultancy.

Huston Power Limited is into power generation and distribution in Nigeria, and has been licensed by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC).

Courtesy of his many businesses and his stakes in these companies, Otudeko currently ranks among the richest men in Nigeria

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The Ecobank imbroglio

Ecobank Nigeria Limited filed a bankruptcy suit to recover an alleged debt of N4.1 billion from the Chairman of Honeywell Group, Dr Oba Otudeko.

The bank claimed that Otudeko had personally guaranteed the loan obtained by three of his firms – Honeywell Flour Mills Plc; Siloam Global Services Limited; and Anchorage Leisures Limited. Following the alleged failure of the firms to liquidate the loans, it fell on him to pay the debts.

The bank, therefore, asked for “a receiving order against estate, funds, investment, shares or other interests of the debtor, principally in Siloam Global Services Limited and in Honeywell Group Limited; Honeywell Flour Mills Plc; Anchorage Leisures Limited; Honeywell Oil and Gas Limited; Uraja Real Estate Limited; Broadview Engineering Limited; Uraja Power Solutions Limited; Honeywell Energy Resources Limited; Hudson Power Limited; Pivot Engineering Limited and Pavillion Technology Limited, which interest is held either directly or through the said Siloam Global Services Limited and/or in any other company within and outside Nigeria.”

It also asked for leave to appropriate or utilise the “investments, shares or other interests of the debtor (Otudeko) in all the companies listed above and in any other company/corporate entity in Nigeria or outside Nigeria in partial or full satisfaction of the debt due.”

Among its prayers, Ecobank wants the court to order Otudeko to immediately avail it his “statement of affairs, statement of net worth and other credible financial details requisite and in furtherance to the Bankruptcy Act.”

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Otudeko through his counsel, filed a preliminary objection, urging the court to either dismiss/strike out the suit or stay proceedings “in deference to arbitration.”

He described the suit as an abuse of court processes, contending that it was filed in gross violation of Section 7(1)(a) of the Bankruptcy (Proceedings) Rules Cap B2, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2010.

The case is still in court.

Other services

In 2003, Oba Otudeko established a non- governmental organisation called Oba Otudeko Foundation (OOF) as an official vehicle to carry out his philanthropic acts. Over the years, the foundation has organised empowerment programmes, as well as capacity building, and building of institutions.

The foundation built an Auditorium for Pan Atlantic University, an Administrative Block to All Saints’ College, Edun Village, Ibadan, Footprints Occupational Training Centre, and the Endowment of the Centre of Entrepreneurial Studies of the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye, Ogun State among others.

Otudeko chairs the Board of Trustees of Honeywell Flour Mill Plc and FBN Holdings Plc and is a member of the board of Lagos Sheraton Hotel.

He is a Fellow, Institute of Chartered and Corporate Accountants, UK, Chartered Institute of Bankers, UK, and Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators, UK. Oba is also a member of the Office of Distinguished Friends of London Business School and Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria.

He is a seasoned corporate governance guru, having served on boards like the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Guinness Nigeria Plc, British American Tobacco Ltd, and Ecobank Transnational Incorporated, headquartered in Lome, Togo, NEPAD Business Group of Nigeria, Delmar Overseas Ltd and Khali & Dibbo Ltd. He is the Group Chairman, FBN Holdings Plc.

At different times, he was also Chairman, First Bank of Nigeria, FBN Bank (UK) Limited, Airtel Nigeria, Fan Milk of Nigeria Plc, Digital Africa Conference Exhibition in Abuja, Business Support Group, National Maritime Authority, and Nigerian- South African Chamber of Commerce.

He was the 16th President and Chairman of Council of the Nigerian Stock Exchange serving between September 2006 and August 2009. He is also a council member, Manufacturers’ Association of Nigeria (MAN), Nigerian Banks Employers’ Association, West African Banks’ Association and the Presidential Advisory Council on Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan.

Otudeko holds the Nigerian National Honours of Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic (CFR), Member of the Order of the Federal Republic, MFR, and currently serves as a member of the Office of Distinguished Friends of the London Business School (UK).

On Monday, August 18, 2020, the business mogul will be 77 years old. He clearly shows no sign of slowing down his activities and impacts any time soon.

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Personal Finance

10 Business mistakes to avoid post-COVID-19

With the emergence of lockdown and social distancing, businesses are now incorporating innovative working arrangements.

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The "new normal" in business and economy

Not only did COVID-19 spread globally, it also stopped all activities in almost every sphere of human endeavour.

Apart from the fact that the pandemic affected many lives, it also brought about a great disruption in the business sector.

SMEs and large enterprises have experienced various forms of contractions, and this has led to business closure for some. Many companies thrived on an existing modus operandi and were not prepared for the impacts of the pandemic. However, with the emergence of lockdown and social distancing, businesses are now incorporating innovative working arrangements like remote working, online services as well as regular variation in shifts.

While the pandemic is still being brought under control, a new order of business operations has been established and going forward, businesses must carefully plan and think out ways to thrive.

While planning on how to navigate the whole situation carefully, it is advisable to take note of certain mistakes that could hinder their progress.

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This article provides for you ten (10) mistakes you should avoid making in your business post-COVID-19.

1. Not having an online presence

The pandemic brought a halt to movement and large gatherings, and this stopped many businesses that existed mainly on physical interactions to stop and pack up. Business owners must learn that it is a huge travesty to plan their strategy without having an online presence; in fact, they would be missing a lot. They must strategically think of going digital and maximize the opportunities that come from interacting with over 4.5 billion people.

2. Limiting the business vision

The pandemic has pushed heads of enterprises to a position of mere survival. Plans and decisions are being made just for the moment without considering the long term existence of the business. Every business started off with a mission, a set of objectives to achieve and needs to meet. Regardless of the economic transition, it is important to hold those goals in mind while constantly seeking ways to attain them.

3. Poor marketing strategy

With the emphasis placed on marketing, especially on digital marketing lately, and the importance it holds for any business, it is not only a mistake for an establishment to limit its marketing strategies but a business taboo as well. Many products and services have emerged during the pandemic which poses competition to already existing providers. It is a necessity to brush up the marketing game in order to gain relevance in the business sector and source for more leads as well.

4. Building on hope

Optimism is good, but planning is better. We are moving into an era of intense technological integration which has influenced various business operations. E-commerce, as well as remote working, has become a norm and businesses will have to move with the flow. There are quite a number of entrepreneurs who are waiting for the tides to calm so they can paddle their boats. The trick is in planning while waiting. It is okay to place one’s bet on hope but mapping out plans for sustenance is more advantageous.

5. Unplanned redundancy

It will seem like the way out for most enterprises to lay off some of their workers in order to survive the disastrous financial situation they may experience. However, one key factor in adopting this strategy is to carefully examine the effect it might have on the growth of the business. Over time, there might be a need to hire new workers which will incur a cost in recruiting and training new employees. Low man-power influences productivity. As such, measures must be put in place to make up for the labour pool that will be cut off.

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6. Pouring new wine in old wineskins

Innovation has been on the rise on account of the pandemic. New commercial and industrial techniques are sprouting paving the way for longevity. Holding onto old and familiar methods that are no longer effective could constitute a big mistake for any business. Entrepreneurs and managers have to embrace the reality that comes with post-COVID-19 with a sense of focus.

7. Ill-suited rigidity

Flexibility is one of the keys to thriving after the transition. Understand that the pandemic has affected the world economically and otherwise. Hence, it is crucial to adapt to the changes by inculcating new plans, being versatile and multifaceted rather than being inappropriately unbending.

8. Neglecting creativity

Neglecting the power of creativity is a costly mistake every business should avoid making. The post-COVID-19 period will be a salient time to be creative and innovative. Establishments should be on the lookout for how to meet the needs of consumers, ways to improve their services in order to stay in vogue. Teachers are resorting to virtual classrooms; traders are integrating e-commerce; companies are investing in work-from-home technology. It is all about creativity.

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9. Ineffective communication

With much regards given to remote work and other emerging working arrangements, it is important to devise means to ensure effective discharge of duties by members of any business. The ineffective flow of communication can retard the growth of businesses which is one of the mistakes to avert. When workers understand that it takes collective effort to ensure the continuity of the business, it becomes easy for them to efficiently invest their energy.

10. Poor assessment

Disregarding the place of systematic evaluation of the performance of any enterprise is one of the business mistakes to avoid post-COVID-19. There should be a feasible assessment carried out to ascertain where the business stands in terms of labour force, expenditures, cash flow and returns on investment.

Conclusively, there is no green light as to whether a post-COVID-19 will exist or not. However, as the virus lingers, each business owner must adjust to make sure they do not make the above-mentioned mistakes or other possible business mistakes that may not have been mentioned in this article.

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Business

Ride-hailing: Lagos reduces operational license fee by 20%, as operators meet with Governor

In the meeting with the Governor, all parties agreed to newer resolutions.

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COVID-19: Lagos State to begin curfew on Sunday to disinfect metropolis, Lagos state government discharges 7 more coronavirus patients, Lagos state will reverse to full lockdown, Sanwo-Olu to virtually inaugurate projects as he presents scorecard of first year in office, Lekki regional road: Sanwo-Olu revokes land titles of Elegushi Royal family

The Lagos State Government has reduced the operational license fee placed on ride-hailing companies operating in the state by 20%.

The decision was taken during a stakeholders’ meeting with the State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Friday.

Governor Sanwo-Olu’s media aide, Jubril Gawat, who disclosed the outcome of the meeting, also noted that it was attended by operators like Uber, Bolt, and BMP among others.

The Backstory: Earlier this week, the Lagos State Government had announced new guidelines designed for ride-hailing operations in the state. According to the new regulatory framework by the state which will take effect from August 20, 2020, ride-sharing companies were required to pay the Lagos State Government a 10% service tax on each transaction.

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The new guidelines required operators to pay a provisional license fee of N10,000,000.00 for every 1000 cars in their unit and N25,000,000.00 for every unit above 1000 cars. Annual renewal of the license would cost N5,000,000.00 for every unit of 1000 cars and N10,000,000.00 for units with over a thousand cars in operations.

The guidelines also required that the vehicles must be brand new or within the first three (3) years of its manufacture as specified by the manufacturer.

Now, during the meeting with the Governor, all parties agreed to newer resolutions which are:

  1. There must be comprehensive insurance cover which will cover drivers and passengers.
  2. A reduction of 20% on the operational licensing fees.
  3. A flat fee of N20 to be known as Road Improvement Fund which will be levied on each ride/trip.
  4. A 90-day compliance with documentation for the drivers – There will be a one-stop shop for all the documentation (especially LASSRA Card- Lagos State Resident Registration Agency.
  5. E- Hailing companies to work with various bodies in the business for a good relationship.
  6. There MUST be due diligence and background checks on all drivers.
  7. Riders should desist from offline trips and transactions.
  8. E-Hailing Firms must make necessary data available to the Govt.

Mr. Gawat also noted that media reports about operators being required to only use cars that are not more than 3 years are incorrect. Instead, the rule only applies to Corporate Cabs.

“This has nothing to do with the E Hailing business,” Gawat said.

On the requirements for sharing data, the Lagos state government said that data shared would be encrypted, and the personal information of ride sharers would not be disclosed.

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“This will help Government clear up issues around congestion & also calculation for the charge paid to Government,” he added.

Uber had earlier told Nairametrics, after the guidelines were released, that it was willing to engage the government on regulations to ensure “our operations align with best practices locally and internationally.

“We have always been willing to engage with governments on regulations to ensure our operations align with best practices locally and internationally, as we believe regulations need to support innovative technology ideas that fit 21st-century businesses.

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“The current proposed regulations are inconsistent and unclear. We are working to better understand how they will impact the future of our business and network of driver-partners. We will give an update in due course,” Uber said.

The meeting with the governor was needed, as clarifications were required on the execution of the guidelines.

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