MasterwebNews 6/12/16 - Nigeria to encourage tomato paste processing -Buhari

[ Masterweb Reports ] - The Federal Government will this year prioritise tomato paste processing as part of its strategic implementation plan, President Muhammadu Buhari said on Monday in Abuja. He said this while declaring open the 2016 Africa Economic Conference with the theme: “Feed Africa: Towards agro-allied industrialization for inclusive growth.”


Represented by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, he said that the decision to have tomato paste processed in Nigeria was a strategic implementation plan to become self-sufficient in the product.


He said, “The choice of tomato is predicated on our ability to produce tomatoes in large quantities several times a year as well as its extensive use in Nigerian meals.


“There is of course the opportunity to generate a large number of agricultural jobs and also as a means to adding value along the agro-allied chain.”


He said that there were many factors that affected the nation’s aspirations in this regard.


He said there was the need to plant the appropriate quality of the food to be used for processing.


Buhari also said that a lot of small scale farms were not linked to large farms, so they faced the problems of transportation and storage, especially where tomatoes were ripe, posing additional challenges.


He said, “Operators still have to contend with issues of infrastructure, especially power generation.


“This is a very important issue because it goes to the very heart of being competitive against import from other parts of the world which have penetrated the market.


“We currently have to carry out appropriate levels of support and protection for this sector.’’


He also identified high cost of finance as a factor tomato farmers and tomato paste manufacturers have to contend with.


He added that the government was trying to mitigate this through its development institutions like the Bank of Agriculture and the Bank of Industry.


Another intervention, he said, was the micro farmers credit scheme targeting small scale farmers.


Buhari commended the contributions of the African Development Bank in supporting Nigeria towards economy diversification.


He said, “The recent support of 600 million dollars provided by AfDB as the first tranche of the planned one billion dollar support to Nigeria will certainly go a long way in helping the country to further pursue reforms in the agriculture sector.


“The government is also keen in ensuring that Nigeria adds value to what it produces.


“This is why we are very pleased that the AfDB will be supporting Nigeria in the development of a staple crop processing zone and other agro-industrial parks.”


The AfDB President, Mr. Akinwunmi Adesina, said agriculture, which contributes over 28 per cent of the GDP of Africa, holds the key for the accelerated growth, diversification and job creation for African economies.


He, however, lamented the poor performance of the sector in Africa, adding that it was still dominated by large number of subsistence farmers.


He also said that the sector suffered from low levels of public investment, including access to finance for farmers and agribusinesses.


He said, “Agriculture has largely been seen as a development sector for managing poverty and not for creating wealth.


“Yet Africa sits on a huge potential of agriculture; it is estimated that about 65 per cent of uncultivated arable land left in the world that will feed nine billion people by 2050 lies in Africa.


“What Africa does with agriculture will shape the future of food growth.”


Adesina said that estimates had shown that food and agri-business sector was projected to grow from 330 billion dollars today to one trillion dollars by 2050.


He said that the key to achieving that was to start with treating agriculture as a business. (NAN)


*Photo Caption - President Muhammadu Buhari

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