The Federal Government has been urged to ban some products, particularly tomato paste, because some imported pastes contain about 50 per cent starch before dilution in Nigeria where an additional 15 per cent starch is often added.
A Professor of Horticulture and Landscape Management at the Federal University of Agriculture (FUNAAB), Abeokuta, Ogun State, Prof. Goke Bodunde, made the call at the 59th Inaugural Lecture of the institution.
Bodunde, who delivered the inaugural lecture entitled: “Unveiling the beauty of an unforbidden fruit”, condemned substandard tomato paste import and the consumption of rotten tomato fruits called Esha in the Southwest, which he attributed to poor tomato yield.
According to him, although tomato is vital to nutrition, Nigeria has the poorest production in the world with about five tonnes per hectare (ha), compared to Egypt that records a yield of 39.7t/ha and South Africa’s 78.7t/ha.
Bodunde attributed the low tomato productivity to environmental and managerial factors.
The don stated that because of the low production and the dietary compulsion of tomato in culinary use, some abuses had been observed.
“This is the story of some of the tomato paste and puree imported into Nigeria, 91.1 per cent of which, according to the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) (2015), failed to meet the required standard,” he said.
According to him,“it is noteworthy that most of the pastes are imported as concentrates in drums and big cans from Italy, India and China. They are usually diluted, packaged and finally canned by various canning industries in Nigeria”.
Speaking on the way forward, Bodunde advocated investment in tomato canning industry by the private sector and the government as well as the promotion of research-industry linkage.
The Vice-Chancellor, Prof Kolawole Salako described Professor Bodunde as a very effective academic and mentor who has supervised more than 150 undergraduates’ projects and over 60 postgraduate research theses at Masters and Ph.D levels either as a major or co-supervisor.
SOURCE: THE NATION