Manufacturers seek support for investments in backward integration initiatives
Efforts to reduce N11.7b yearly cost of tomato concentrates import underway
To enhance the effective implementation of government’s backward integration agenda in the agro-allied sector, especially tomato sector, the Managing Director of Sonia Food Industries, Nnamdi Nnodebe, has urged the Federal Government to support indigenous manufacturers’ access to foreign exchange to sustain their backward integration projects.
According to him, improving access to foreign exchange will further aid acquisition of necessary equipment and raw materials to backwardly integrate in the tomato processing sector.
Nnodebe made the call during a factory tour of some manufacturing firms in the Ogun State by the State’s Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Bimbo Ashiru.
According to Nnodebe, lack of access to foreign exchange has become a challenge and has left manufacturers groaning under the weight of the current forex policy, thus making it difficult for them to access raw materials.
He said: “I am very confident, if given this allowance, it will work together for our good and for the economy, because Sonia Foods can complete a tomato factory farm, requisite for processing tomato concentrate, within two years.
He however, expressed optimism about the prospects of the investments, even as he prevailed on the federal government to allow more time, to enable Manufacturers to achieve backward integration.
Also speaking, President, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Dr. Frank Jacobs, said, “18 months window is what manufacturers of tomato concentrates need to move the sector forward. Backward integration is paramount on the mind of tomato producers, and it would only be ideal to support them to actualise this ambition for the good of our economy.
“As you well know, once this is actualised, jobs would be created and more importantly, exports would start to happen because Nigeria has the potential to become leading exporter of concentrates, if given the prerequisite support.
“One way, we could make this happen, is partner the Northern States, since tomato cultivation thrives in the North where it finds favourable climate. Governors in the North should endeavour to work together with credible manufacturers to speedily achieve backward integration.
“Nigeria is the second highest producer of tomato in Africa and 13th in the world. Still, it spends N11.7 billion yearly, on importation of tomato paste”. Sadly, about 750,000 of the tomatoes harvested in Nigeria, go to waste, as a result of poor Food Supply Chain (FSC) management; price instability, and the supply preference of farmers and middlemen for urban markets than processors due to low farm gate prices”.
In response to the call, the Ogun State Government pledged its firm support especially for manufacturers within the state noting that the state government will give required support to enable them to thrive by taking the manufacturers’ case to the federal ministries of finance, industry, trade and investment.