Following the resolve by the Nigerian Customs Service to commence implementation of the New Tomato Production Policy, indications have emerged that Dangote Tomato Processing Plant and three other firms may commence operations soon.
The tomato policy would ensure that importers pay higher duty for tomato paste importation, with a tariff of $1,500 per metric tonne of tomato paste imported.The Vice President of the Nigeria Agribusiness Group (NABG), who disclosed this yesterday in Abuja at the AGRA MIRA Nigeria Project stocktaking workshop, said the move would encourage backward integration and bring indigenous companies at par to effectively compete with importers of tomato paste.
Lamenting that most of the tomato processing companies initially shut down because the Nigerian Customs was not implementing the policy, he said through their engagement under the Micro Reforms (policy, law and regulations) for African Agribusiness, they were able to push for the implementation of the policy.
Ijewere pointed out that although the policy was approved by the Federal Executive Council last year, it was not implemented by the Nigerian Customs until Vice President Yemi Osinbajo compelled them, adding that from January 2019, the factories would commence operations.
According to him, tomatoes grown in the country are not being converted into the paste, as it was cheaper for the tomato processing plants to import from abroad as the yield coming from farmers is not enough to serve the tomato factories and most of them rely on China and Italy for the paste. He added that none of the 12 factories that engaged with them were able to process tomatoes from Nigeria, as most of their factories were designed to import the paste from overseas, add water and then package.
Source: The Guardian Newspaper