The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has said there is a $2.5 billion tomato supply gap that needs to be bridged in order to fully prime Nigeria a world-beater in tomato production.
Calling on investors to key into the tomato value chain, CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele said that the apex bank was ready to back investors willing to scale up investments in the value chain.
Emefiele gave the assurance at the launch of the Tomato Jos Farming and Processing Ltd factory located in Kaduna State.
AgroNigeria had earlier reported that the firm in partnership with the Kaduna state government has set out to boost tomato paste production in Nigeria. The project is also backed by the CBN through its Entrepreneurial Agriculture and Capacity Development Programme.
In Emefiele’s remarks, “The annual production in Nigeria is estimated at about 1.701 million tonnes while annual consumption is estimated at 2.93 million tonnes. This leaves an annual supply shortfall of more than 1.2 million tonnes valued at about $2.5 billion annually, which is met through importation and smuggling.”
“Tomato is among the commodities that play an important role in the demand for forex in the economy. This, therefore, calls for a holistic approach in tackling these and other related challenges bedeviling the tomato value chain,” he added.
The Bank’s Governor also recalled that the CBN had excluded importers of 41 items from accessing foreign exchange at the Nigerian forex markets to thrive local production.
He disclosed that the establishment of the Commodity Champion model has aided the production of more tomatoes and the strengthening of the end-to-end linkages in the value chain from input supplies to the consumer.
He further noted that the initiative has helped with the mobilization and validation of about 140,848 farmers from different 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,” Emefiele said.