Kaduna state governor, Nasir El-Rufai, has performed the ground breaking of a multi-billion naira tomato processing plant owned by Tomato Jos Farming and Processing Limited.
Multibillion CBN-assisted tomato processing plant inaugurated in Kaduna
Over 7,500 jobs created as the company targets 10% of total tomato paste consumed in Nigeria.
The plant which is to utilize raw materials from a 400 hectare tomato farm established by the company is to be commissioned in 2021.
Speaking at the ground-breaking of the plant on Monday, January 27, 2020, El-Rufai expressed great delight over the multi-billion investment saying that it had already created jobs for the people.
According to the governor, apart from hob creation, the plant had also taken off the burden of insecurity by gainfully engaging the youths in the community.
“Today we are delighted that Tomato Jos is expanding its investment footprint in our state by taking a leap from growing tomato and other crops to building a facility to make tomato paste," El-Rufai said.
“With its farm, Tomato Jos has impacted on this community, creating jobs and impacting its out growers with modern farming techniques and roads to the market.
“The Kaduna State Government welcomes this latest investment in our state which is endowed with vast arable land.
“Kaduna state is the number one producer of maize, tomatoes, soya beans, ginger and sorghum.
“We are calling on big investors like Tomato Jos to move to Kaduna state and produce more of these agricultural products,” he said.
He noted that it was important to encourage the private sector to invest and provide jobs as government alone could not do the work.
El-rufai added that the the likes of 'Tomato Jos' demonstrate why Kaduna state is ranked as the number one place for doing business by the World Bank’s ease of doing business report for 2018.
He commended the MD of the company, Mira Mehta, for locating the company in Kaduna, stressing that she was courageous to have done so.
“We thank her for all she has done to make our people here richer and more contributors to our economic growth than dependents."
The governor appreciated the U.S. ambassador and her predecessor for the support they had given to the project.
He also commended the chairman of Flour Mills of Nigeria (FMN) for the investments in the state and for encouraging others like 'Tomato Jos' to come to the state.
Speaking earlier, Mehta, expressed her gratitude to the state government for the support and encouragement given to the company in 2017 when they first moved to Kaduna.
She also thanked the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, for driving the his visionary leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari that Nigeria can and should feed itself.
She equally commended the community for hosting her while also thanking the United States government for the support which the company had enjoyed.
“The Tomato Jos vision is very simple: local production for local consumption and our goal is very clear: we want to create a middle class in rural Nigeria through the industrialization of agriculture.
“This ground breaking ceremony is just the beginning and I am very proud to be part of a Nigerian success story,” she said.
The Tomato Jos company had so far employed 2,500 and is to engage over 5000 more Nigerians at the completion of the processing plant.
The company has also earmarked N7 billion for investment within the next five years to fully scale up its operation in Nigeria.
The company is also supporting farmers cultivating 3,000 hectares of land, sourcing 150,000 tons of tomatoes with a target of producing of to 10 percent of local consumption in Nigeria.
Also speaking at the groundbreaking, CBN governor said that the event marks a milestone in the bank’s intervention in agriculture.
He emphasised that such projects are contributing to actualising President Buhari's vision to ensure food security by making sure that the country produced what it eats.
“Tomato Jos is one of the key projects that we are supporting in our tomato value chain and the reality of today’s event is an attestation of the successes.
“I thank President Muhammadu Buhari for his continuous support towards diversifying the economy and creating jobs through focused intervention in critical sectors such as agriculture,” he said.
He said that prior to the CBN’s intervention, the varieties that were being cultivated were low yielding with 12 tonnes per hectare, adding that the newer varieties now cultivated can yield up to 50 tonnes per hectare.
He also identified that the quality hitherto available were not good for commercial processing, adding that new varieties were now better for paste making.
Emefiele disclosed that the country currently had a deficit tomato production of 1.2 million metric tonnes which was costing N2.5 billion on importation, adding that such investments would help bridge the gap.
He added that tomato is among the commodity that plays an important role in the demand for forex in Nigeria which was why the CBN was championing local production.
“The management of Tomato Jos have performed creditably by flagging off this processing plant here in Kaduna which has the potential of creating employment for hundreds of Kaduna indigenes and other Nigerians.
“It is my sincere hope that the management of this company will remain focused and not be distracted so as to achieve the goal of this project,” he said.
The U.S. Ambassador said the project would foster Nigeria's economic development.
“It is an important day for the U.S. embassy, to witnesses the expansion of one of the most innovative and enterprising American-Nigerian agribusinesses in Nigeria.
“The U.S. embassy is proud to consider Tomato Jos as a close partner in fostering the economic development in Nigeria.
“This country has limitless economic potentials and investment opportunities across a range of sectors but particularly in Agriculture.
“In my few months here in Nigeria I have seen that and I have seen the importance of Agriculture in driving the economic future of this country,” she said.
The new Tomato Jos processing plant is to be completed and commissioned in 2021.
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