By Princewill Ekwujuru
Manufacturers in the real sector of the economy have requested the federal government to grant them 18 months access to foreign exchange to enable them backwardly integrate.
Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, MAN President Dr. Frank Jacobs, made the request during a factory tour by Ogun State Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Mr. Bimbo Ashiru, where he said, “18 months window is what manufacturers of tomato 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, actualise this ambition for the good of our economy, as you well know once this is actualized, 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 like Sonia Foods, to speedily achieve backward integration. Nigeria is the second highest Producer of tomato in Africa and 13th in the world. Still, it spends N11.7billion annually, 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”.
It will be recalled that under the new foreign exchange policy regime, 41 items were barred from access to foreign exchange, necessary for the purchase of raw materials for processing and Production of finished goods.
Jacobs explained that, the solution to this challenge is provide an avenue where, Nigerian Manufacturers of tomato paste can harness this yield for paste Production, thereby encouraging the farmers smile while equally keeping them gainfully and positively Engaged.
Corroborating, Managing Director of Sonia Food Industries, Mr. Nnamdi Nnodebe, said, “This development has become a challenge and has left manufacturers groaning under the weight of the current policy which has made it difficult for them to access raw materials.
“I am very confident, if given this allowance, it will work together for our good and for the economy, because Sonia Foods can compete a tomato factory farm, requisite for processing tomato concentrate, within two years.”
Nnodebe is confident that Sonia Foods can complete a tomato factory farm, requisite for processing tomato concentrate, within two years.
Responding, the Ogun State Government pledged its firm support especially for manufacturers within the state saying they will give the required support to enable them thrive by taking the manufacturers’ case to the federal ministries of finance, industry, trade and investment. “Our government is committed to creating the enabling environment through good road network because if they are producing all these goods and we don’t have good road network, the goods are dead on arrival.”