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The Managing Director of Tomato Jos Farming and Processing Limited, Miss Mira Mehta has disclosed that the company will in the next five years invest N7 billion as part of corporate plan to scale up its investment in tomato farming and processing.
This is as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has assured extension of the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) facilities to genuine tomato farmers and processors across the country.
In her address during the groundbreaking ceremony of Tomato Jos Farming and Processing Limited in Kaduna, the Kaduna State capital, Ms Mira Mehta recalled that the story of the Tomato Jos dream began in 2008, when she encountered her first tomato market glut in Northern Nigeria.
According to her, six years later, she and her co-founder, Shane Kiernan decided to stop dreaming and started working on the process of establishing a world class tomato paste factory with the aim of partnering with indigenous tomato farmers in the region n.
Mehta averred that “We believe in the dream more than ever. Our model hasn’t changed – we still help smallholder farmers to grow excellent tomatoes, and this spring we will use those tomatoes to make high-quality tomato paste.
“The farmers who partner with us receive support during the growing season, and are guaranteed a fair, consistent price when their crops are ready for harvest. And once our product hits the market, the consumers will get to eat fresh, delicious tomato paste while supporting the Nigerian economy.
According to her, “Our vertically integrated operation had succeeded in empowering farmers through three business lines including vis: Farm and agricultural center with farmer education and bundled inputs to help smallholder farmers grow and harvest crops more efficiently;
Logistics and supply chain support to navigate the ‘last mile’ to smallholder farms and safely bring produce to the processing facility; and Food processing and packaging facility that prepares and brands finished goods for distribution in the domestic market. Find out more about us and our triple-bottom business line.
Earlier in his remarks, the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele said even before the current tomato policy was approved in 2017, Government had excluded importers of tomato paste and other 40 items from accessing foreign exchange (forex) as a way of protecting local content development.
According to him, “Pursuant to the above, we introduced the Commodity Champion model in the first quarter of 2019, to stimulate production of tomato and strengthen the end-to-end linkages in the value chain from input supplies to the final consumer.
“The strategy adopted is largely hinged on the twin approaches of outgrower contractual arrangement in the short to medium term, and backward integration in the medium to long term.
“Efforts have begun to yield results with the mobilisation and validation of about 140,848 farmers from various tomato farmers associations across 25 states in Nigeria. They are to be financed under the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) where they would be linked to proximal processors where applicable, or financed to produce fresh fruits for direct consumption, which constitutes the largest use of tomato in Nigeria.
While assuring promoters of Tomato Jos of partnership, Emefiele disclosed that “We are also partnering with other big players in the tomato value chain like Dangote Tomato Processing Ltd, Sonia Foods, GB Foods (GBF), Vegefresh Company Limited and a host of others.
“This is with a view to ensuring that Nigeria becomes self-sufficient in tomato, and our processing companies, functioning at full capacity and employing millions of Nigerian youths”, the apex bank chief averred.
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