Hajia Aisha Abubakar, the Minister of State, Industry, Trade and Investment, on Monday inaugurated a tomato monitoring team to oversee the implementation of government policy to boost production of fresh tomato fruits.
She said at the event in Abuja that the objective of the policy was to achieve sustainable tomato processing in Nigeria.
According to her, tomato industry is multi million dollars across its value chain for both MSMEs and large companies.
She, therefore, said that it implied large opportunity for job creation and wealth in rural areas.
” The objective of the policy is to increase production of tomato to meet demand for fresh fruit consumption and production of concentrate.
“It will also substitute imported tomato concentrate with local products and reduce post harvest losses.
” It is also to establish a framework for sustainable financing of the sub sector,”Abubakar said.
She said that the new tomato policy was approved in February 2017, adding that the implementation of new tariff regime began in earnest in August 2017.
Abubakar said that the ministry had been engaging other MDAs to remove the encumbrances and challenges that might arise in the actualisation of the objectives.
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“It is, therefore, important to put in place a tomato monitoring team to oversee the implementation of the policy.
” The membership of the monitoring team is made up of public and private sector and the processors,” she added.
The team comprises Ministries of Industry, Trade and Investment; Finance; Agriculture; Raw Material Research and Development Council; Customs, CBN, NAFDAC and NARICT.
Abubakar added that the private sector comprised MAN, Dangote Tomato Processing Limited, Erisco Food Industries Limited, Savannah Integrated Farms, GB Food, Tomato Jo’s and Springfield Tomato Processing Companies.
According to her, the terms of reference of the team include to monitor the implementation of the policy and importation of tomato products and derivatives.
She said the team would link research and development with the industry and will advocate for the growth and development of tomato industry.
The minister added that the team was also to establish a peer review mechanism among tomato processors to ensure the sustainability of the industry.
She said that there were challenges ahead and urged the team to show it’s committement to the revival and progress of the sector, to enhance local tomato processing.
” I want to assure you that government has no intention of changing this policy. We will identity the bottlenecks and together we will overcome them,”Abubakar said.
The President, Erisco Food Industries Limited, Mr Eric Umeofia, said that the team was committed to working with the government to improve local tomato processing.
The Chairman, Dangote Tomato Processing Limited, Alhaji Sani Dangote and the representatives of GB Food were among those present at the inauguration.