As Nigerians anticipate the commencement of local production of tomatoes paste, the outgoing President of the Nigerian Agribusiness Group (NABG), Sani Dangote has said they will commence production of tomato paste soon.
He said the company will commence production as soon as government puts the right policies on ground which will attract a level playing ground for the business to thrive.
Speaking at the Annual General Meeting of the NABG, in Abuja yesterday, Dangote said “as soon as the issues of smuggling of tomato paste and adulteration of the product is addressed, they will go back to business”.
The economist also assured that the farmers are willing to produce more tomato for industrial purpose, but said “the recent smuggling and downgrading of tomato paste prices by some countries have discouraged local production of tomato”
According to him “at the moment, we are ready to produce, as you are aware, the vice president was at the farm alongside the Minister of Industry and the Governor of Kano state, he saw farmers planting and to harvest, he promised that within few weeks, they will come up with the right policies to address the issues and once that is addressed, we will definitely start production.
“The issue here is the smuggling and adulteration of the quality, the downgrading of prices by some countries to ensure that they still maintain their market whether $1 is equal to N500, the prices they are offering to our importers depending on quality one wants to import, he can still be able to bring it at current duty and recharge rate.
He said maintained that the smuggling is killing the opportunities of farmers to produce and sell more, and I hope the government will soon address the issue”.
Dangote further said that they are willing to start production today if the farmers will be able to produce enough for the industry to kick start production.
“We can produce from today, farmers are anticipating end of December and January to start harvest, we are ready to produce but we want to make sure that the right policies a d the continuity, so we don’t start today and shutdown next week”, he added.
He explained that the reason why they still want to allow the government to put the right policies in place was that tomato paste factory needs to run constantly for 6 months without obstruction so that it can work at its full capacity.
“Such a factory should run 6 months non stop, so if we start and shutdown, it is a great loss to us, so we are saying put the right policies and once we start our engines, we are sure we will run on a profitable level.
Speaking further on the activities of NABG, Dangote said “over the past six months or so, we have engaged over 150 stakeholders to identify and proffer solutions to input markets, pest and disease control and affordable and accessible financing”.
He added that the NABG Presidential Committee is working to jump-start and catalyze the work plan on implementation of the Green Alternative Agriculture Promotion Policy.
He further added that the Presidency had engaged NABG to proffer solutions to increased production productivity and efficiencies by focusing on removing constraints to improve agri-financing, agri-inputs and services and control of pests and diseases.