Dangote Tomato Factory Begins Operation Soon
• Test-runs factory in readiness
THE Staple Crop Processing Zone Development ‘SCPZ’ Team of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), in the company of officials of the Kano State government, on Thursday, visited the new Dangote Farms Tomato Processing Factory.
The visit to the 1,200 metric ton capacity factory, described as the largest tomato factory in Africa, was part of regular stock taking on the development of the Kadawa-Bunkure Staple Crop Processing Zone (SCPZ).
Dangote Farms, according to the ministry source, is the anchor investor for the Kadawa-Bunkure SCPZ and has worked with the FMARD since the conception of the factory. The Dangote Group, indeed, is a major supporter of the SCPZ programme on many of its sites.
Dr. Niyi Odunlami, who led the ministry’s team to the factory, disclosed that, three-and-a-half years ago, “at the inception of the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) of the present administration, had developed the concept of the SCPZ for the rapid development of modern agro-processing capacity in Nigeria.”
According to Odunlami, this started “even in the days of high oil revenue, as the Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, worked “towards meeting the huge, local and regional demand for processed foods, conserving foreign exchange, boosting food security, improving on nutrition for Nigerians, creating wealth for Nigerian farmers and developing rural economic space.”
The SCPZ team, working with the Kano State government and host communities, identified the Kadawa-Bunkure axis to serve as a model SCPZ site for tomato, rice and sorghum, three years ago. There was huge post-harvest loss of tomato. “That time, farmers embarked on crude preservation method of slicing tomato and leaving on the bare ground to dry when we first came,” Odunlami recalled. All these had happened over several decades, while Nigeria became dependent on imported and smuggled tomato paste and puree.
Odunlami noted that “it is needless to begin to say the obvious on the transformation potentials of what Dangote Farms has done here today, for local farmers, for local youth and for the nation’s economy. We developed the SCPZ Programme to identify major agricultural production clusters, like the Kadawa-Bunkure axis and to designate and appoint a delimited zone for attracting private sector investments into modern processing of locally produced crops, livestock, fisheries and related agribusiness activities. Over two years ago, the Kano State government gave us 250 hectares of land at Gafan for the delimited processing area and promised to develop an independent power plant that will benefit the SCPZ.”
He identified the foreign supports involved as he disclosed that, two years ago, the ministry “contracted the UNIDO to prepare a Master Plan for the development of the Kadawa-Bunkure Model SCPZ. The Plan had since been shared with stakeholders, including discussions at a Forum during the World Economic Forum for Africa WEFA in May 2014 that was attended by the Kano State deputy governor.”
He added that detailed action plans are now being prepared.