Amidst the influx of imported tomato paste products into the Nigerian market, Dangote Tomato Factory, yesterday, resumed production four years after the facility was closed.
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.
But the policy has been frustrated by smuggling cartels through the land borders despite the presence of Nigerian Customs Service.
Conducting journalists round the tomatoes factory at Kadawa, in Garun-Mallam local government area of Kano State, the Managing Director, Dangote Tomatoes Farms, Sani Kaita, explained that the multi-billion dollars factory had resumed production after surmounting some difficulties.
Sani said critical among the challenges included importation of tomato paste, shortfalls in the supply of fresh tomatoes and power failure.
He regretted that despite the strength of the factory with the capacity to produce 1,200 tonnes of processed tomatoes, the smugglers and importers of the foreign paste posed threats to the survival of the factory.
Sani, who believed that Nigeria has the capacity to grow and export processed tomatoes, said the government would continue to deplete huge foreign reserves and job opportunities until importation of paste is completely outlawed.
"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."
Meanwhile, as part of efforts to stimulate economy through agriculture, chairman of GB Food Africa, Alhaji Francis Ogboro, has disclosed that the company spent over N2 billion on production of tomato paste in the last two years.
He said the fund was invested in tractors, farming, harvesting and processing equipment for tomato paste production.