Activities have recently kick-off at the hitherto closed tomato paste factory owned by Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man. Work was observed to have resumed in the factory located in Kano state of after being redundant for more than two years due to a supply disruption partly caused by a price dispute with the local farmers.
Also, it was gathered that the factory, with a daily production capacity of 1,200 metric tons of tomato paste was primarily targeted at meeting domestic consumption and that production restarted mid of March 2019 with an average processing capacity of about 100 tons a daily.
According to Abdulkareem Kaita, the Managing Director (MD) of Dangote Farms Ltd, which owns the factory, production is expected to increase as tomato supply improves. Adding that, the major challenge faced by the factory is the scarcity of the tomatoes.
Other challenges disclosed by Kaita include is disagreement over with the farmers over the price of tomato per basket. Under the new deal with the farmers, the factory will buy tomatoes at prices pegged to what prevailing local markets are selling across the State.
In addition to buying from the local farmers, Dangote Farms Ltd is also developing its own farms with a special tomato strain that could yield up to 60 tons per hectare, compared with the yield of 10 tons per hectare being recorded by the local farmers. The company plans to distribute the seedlings to local growers so as to boost their output to meet the daily demand of the factory.
More so, the factory which started production in 2015, was to help Nigeria in cutting tomato paste importation of 300,000 tons a year from China by using an estimated 900,000 tons of tomatoes lost after harvest every year for lack of storage and processing facilities and other modern farming techniques.