Nigeria’s biggest tomato plant owned by the billionaire, Aliko Dangote has closed down again after resuming from an almost three-year shutdown.
Nairametrics understands that the tomato processing factory closed down because it was unable to get its required feedstock from farmers. The farmers had reportedly switched to other crops at the beginning of the rainy season in May.
The tomato plant, which is located in Kano, was closed for more than two years until March this year over a supply disruption partly caused by a price dispute with farmers. Even after the disagreement was resolved, the factory was unable to ramp up production beyond 20% of its capacity due to inadequate supply of tomatoes, as most of the farmers lacked the needed credit to expand production.
According to the Managing Director of Dangote Farms, Abdulkareem Kaita, the company had been losing at least 30 million naira every month with employees idle but unfazed by the problems, Kaita reiterated that the plant which was set up to supplant imports of tomato paste mostly from China would continue to push ahead.
However, to do this, Kaita stated that the government needed to enforce its decision to curtail tomato-paste imports to reduce incidents of dumping of subsidized pastes on the Nigerian market.
“The effective implementation of the government’s policy in restricting tomato paste importation will guarantee more investment in the tomato value chain, which will eventually lead to self-sufficiency in few years to come.”
Moving on, Kaita disclosed that Dangote Farms had acquired a 5,000-hectare farm to grow a high-yield variety of tomatoes to meet its factory’s requirements while introducing the same strain to other farms to increase their productivity. He said that this would enable the output of farmers to improve tremendously and the processing factory would in turn record ample supply.
What you should know: Nigeria consumes and produces around 2.3 million tonnes of tomatoes a year but the bulk of them begins to rot before they get to the market due to poor roads and storage facilities. Nigeria imports about 1.3 million tons of the red vegetable to replace the ones that get to rot, mostly from China and other parts of Asia. Nigeria is the third-largest importer of the commodity in Africa.