The Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC), has called on the Federal Government to ban the importation of tomato pastes. The Director-General of the council, Dr Hussaini Ibrahim, made the call on Wednesday in Abuja in an interview with newsmen.
The ban, if implemented would save the country over N1.5 billion expended annually on the importation of tomato pastes. Ibrahim said that the council presented varieties of certified improved tomato seedlings to farmers in Nassarawa State in order to boost local production.
He said that the gesture was aimed at boosting the quality of tomato pastes produced in Nigeria; reduce the importation of vegetable and improve farmers’ productivity. Ibrahim said that the distribution of improved tomato seedlings would be extended to farmers in other states.
“We are determined to improve the quality of locally produced tomato pastes in the country; we started by introducing local farmers in Nasarawa State to certified improved tomato varieties. “Nigeria spends well over N 1.5 billion annually on the importation of tomato pastes. ‘’This is because local production of pastes is almost non-existent despite the vibrant tomato farming activities in Nigeria.
“A few entrepreneurs that took the initiative to invest in tomato processing have shut down due to non availability of quality tomatoes that can meet specifications for industrial processing.’’ Ibrahim said that most of the problem the farmers face was high post harvest losses.
‘’There will be no gain, until the quality and quantity of tomatoes produced in Nigeria improve, we shall continue to import’’. Ibrahim stressed the need to provide RMRDC the impetus to intervene by boosting the production of tomatoes in the country.