- Dangote’s Tomato Factory Resumes Operation
Dangote Tomato Processing Plant has resumed operation after suspending production two years ago due to lack of supplies.
The plant was shut down in 2017 because of invasion of tomato pest called tomato absoluta that reportedly originated from South America.
The factory with a production capacity of 1200 metric tonnes per day and can produce 400,000 tonnes of tomato paste per year, signed an agreement with 8000 farmers to supply tomatoes at $700 a ton, twice the local price as at the time.
But the farmers quickly dumped the agreement after tomato absoluta attacked their farms and damaged tomatoes.
Lack of raw tomatoes forced Dangote to close down the plant in 2017. Barely a year after it opened.
Speaking during the official reopening of the factory on Wednesday in Kano, Abdulkarim Kaita, the Managing Director of the factory lamented that smugglers are still stmuggling imported tomato paste into the country despite government ban to encourage local production.
“Our major challenge is the importation of tomato paste. The federal government has banned the importation of tomato paste but the federal government did not enforce the ban, that is why we still see the commodity making its way into our markets. This means it is being smuggled into the country.
“Therefore, I call on the federal government to enforce the ban and ensure that the product is not smuggled into the country anymore. This would save the government billions of naira and improve local industries like ours, as well as improve the income of local farmers.
“That is why we called on the government to enforce the ban on the importation of tomato paste and its smuggling like it did on rice, ” he stressed.
The MD later revealed that the factory would now be producing 100 tonnes a day, down from the 1,200 tonnes it started with. This, he attributed to the scarcity of the commodity. Suggesting that the management may have been forced to commence operation regardless of the volume of production to reduce the cost of maintenance of the idle factory.
Kaita, however, was optimistic that the production would improve going forward, adding that they just reached another agreement with local farmers with a pegged market price per ton.