Nigeria will be sufficient in tomato paste production by 2013 – Sanusi
By Lazarus IBEABUCHI
LAGOS: Nigeria will be sufficient in the production of tin tomato pastes by 2013 as production of Tomatoes will grow by 1000 per cent in Kano, the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Governor, Lamido Sanusi said.
Speaking at the 2012 forum of Bank Directors Association of Nigeria (BDAN) in Lagos, Sanusi said this feat was achieved from a model developed to revitalised the real sector of the economy and bring farmers into the financial inclusion programme.
Sanusi said that by February 2013, tomato production would have grown from 300,000 to three million metric tons, representing 1000 per cent in the state, adding that the farmers would be producing 300,000 metric tons of tomato pastes which are 100 per cent of importation of the pastes into Nigeria this year.
He said, “Everyone complains about maximum neglect to agriculture and it is true. For instance, look at tin tomato and how can banks lend to a tin tomato farmer? If you go to Kano today and take the tomato that is produced, there is so much water in it that it cannot produce what you call the China red paste that madam uses in the kitchen.
“So, even if you process that, it wouldn’t give you the paste. There is no storage for the Tomato farmer and the yields are very low. So, we started to work on fixing the market. What is done on Tomato paste for example, started between January and February.
“There is a huge transformation now. We put together all the stakeholders in various meetings including the processers, the seed providers, the research institutes, the Commissioner of Agriculture in the state, the banks, among others. By January/February, there will be a Dangote tomato processing plant in the Kano.
“We are working on the irrigation; we have changed the seeds; the production will move from 2 million metric tonnes per hectare to 10 million per hectare. We have a variety of seeds that produce paste. Now, with the irrigation, the farmers can now plant in two cycles. We are about to finish negotiation with Dangote on contracted price for the farmers per basket.
“The farmers used to sell a basket for N450 because they need to sell before it perishes. Those that are able to store can hold on and sell for N2,200 towards the end of the season. Now, the average now adds up to N1000 per basket. Dangote wants to pay N1200 per basket.
“If he accepts to buy at N1,200, our model shows that farmers can borrow from banks with the high yield through variety of seeds and, with this technical that assistance farmers have, they can make a return of 80-100 per cent of their capital.
“Thus, the cash flow. Now, with that model working from January 2013 through 2014, what would have happened is that tomato output in that area in Kano/Jigawa axis would have moved up from 300,000 metric tonnes to 3 million metric tonnes every year. We will be producing 300,000 metric tons of Tomato paste and that is 100 per cent of import of Tomatoes into Nigeria this year
“But we did not get here by just sitting down, and preaching to banks and complaining and beating them around the neck and telling them that they are not lending to agriculture, rather it was because all hands were on deck” he said.