The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, said it is committed to promoting the tomato value chain to meet the need of Nigerians and address the shortfall of about 1.2 million tonnes valued at about $2.5 billion annually.
It has also mobilised and validated 140,848 tomato farmers for the Anchor Borrowers Programme, the governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, disclosed at the ground-breaking ceremony of Tomato Jos at Kangimi community in Kaduna.
Tomato Jos is an American-owned company aimed at transforming smallholder farmers from subsistence growers into commercial producers. The company has 500 hectares of land with the potential to cultivate tomatoes of 400 hectares and it is expected to begin production in 2021.
Emefiele said the beneficial farmers were selected from various Tomato Farmers Associations across 25 states in the country.
He explained that the farmers would be linked to proximal processors where applicable, or financed to produce fresh fruits for direct consumption, which constitute the largest use of tomato in the country.
“We are also partnering with other big players in the tomato value chain like Dangote Tomato Processing Ltd, Sonia Foods, GB Foods (GBF), Vegefresh Company Ltd and a host of others. This is with a view to ensuring that Nigeria becomes self-sufficient in tomato and our processing companies function at full capacity and employ millions of Nigerian youths.
“My presence here today is a demonstration of CBN’S preparedness to partner with the private sector to facilitate the development of Nigeria’s agricultural sector through our various programmes and schemes like Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme, CACS, and the Anchor Borrowers Programme, ABP.
“Others like Micro Small and Medium Enterprises Development Fund, Agri-business/Small and Medium Enterprises Investment Scheme among others,” said Emefiele.
The U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Ms Mary Leonard congratulated the management of the company for the wonderful initiative. Leonard said the United States Mission in Nigeria is happy and proud of this development brought to Nigeria.
She added that America is ready to support Nigeria in its course to promote agriculture and other key areas to achieve its developmental agenda.
The event was attended by Governor Nasir El-Rufai, the CBN governor, the U.S Ambassador to Nigeria and Mr John Coumantaros, the Chairman of Flour Mills of Nigeria among others.