Uche Usim, Kaduna
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele on Monday assured tomato farmers and processors that they would be sufficiently financed under the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP).
According to him, this is tohelp meet local demand and bridge an annual shortfall of more than 1.2 million tonnes valued at about $2.5billion, met before now through importation and smuggling.
This is as the Managing Director of Tomato Jos, Miss Mira Mehta, said the company would invest N7 billion within the next five years to scale up its investment in tomato farming and processing.
Speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony of Tomato Jos Farming and Processing Limited located in Kaduna, Emefiele said that the CBN, as far back as June 2015, before the current tomato policy was approved in 2017, had excluded importers of 41 items, among which is tomato, from accessing foreign exchange (forex) at the Nigerian forex markets.
“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.
“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 employıing millions of Nigerian youths”, he said.
Emefiele said the CBN was also addressing the challenge of low quantum of production per hectare that results in low yield.
The CBN Governor appreciated the management of Tomato Jos and the Kaduna State Governor, Mr Nasir el-Rufai, for the robust investment in agriculture.