NIGERIA – Dangote Tomato Factory has resumed production of tomato paste after years of shutdown following a challenging operating environment.

According to a report by The Guardian, Managing Director, Dangote Tomatoes Farms, Sani Kaita, explained that the multi-million dollar factory had resumed production after overcoming some difficulties.

Among the challenges that had seen the shutdown of the factory included importation of tomato paste, shortfalls in the supply of fresh tomatoes and power failure, Sani explained.

Sani lamented on the increased importation of cheap tomato paste which had crippled operation in the factory despite having a capacity to process 1,200 tonnes of tomatoes.

“Dangote Tomatoes Factory came on stream about four years ago essentially to meet the local consumption and create complement the Federal Government’s policy on diversification through agricultural development.

The investment is to also check post-heaviest losses, boost self-sufficiency and reduce huge foreign reserves being spent on importation.

But when we started, our major challenge, among other issues, was the importation of foreign paste despite the ban placed on it. The factory couldn’t survive because we don’t have orders. The dealers relied on imported products,” he said.

According to Sani, the country has a tomato production capacity sufficient to meet local tomato paste demand despite its overreliance on imports.

He therefore appealed to the federal government to device more stringent measures that will protect the local industry against tomato paste importation which has put jobs at risk and continued to implicate on the country’s foreign currency generation.

The Federal Government had earlier banned importation of tomato paste to encourage investments in local production and industrial utilization of local raw materials to create the multiplier effects of jobs and wealth.

Additionally, as part of efforts to stimulate the economy through agriculture, chairman of GB Food Africa, Alhaji Francis Ogboro, has disclosed that the company spent over US$5.53 million on production of tomato paste in the last two years.

Francis explained that the fund was invested in machinery, farming, harvesting and processing equipment for tomato paste production.

Additionally, the government has also unveiled plans of setting up solar-powered cold storage facilities to minimise post-harvest losses of the commodity and ensure consistent supply.