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Dangote's tomato plant resumes production in a move to cut paste imports from China

Aliko Dangote has reopened his Tomato Processing plant in Kano in a move to cut paste importation from China and make Africa's populous sufficient in local production.

Aliko Dangote, Chairman of Dangote group

Located in Kadawa, outskirts of northern city of Kano, Africa’s biggest tomato plant was launched in March 2016 and faced lack of materials and price dispute between the company and farmers late 2017 which saw its shutdown.

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In a report by Bloomberg, the factory picked up production last week with a production capacity of 1,200 metric tons of tomato paste daily.

Abdulkareem Kaita, managing director of Dangote Farms Ltd., in an interview with Bloomberg News said the factory can process about 100 tons of tomato paste per day and will ramp up output as tomato supply improves.

“Our major challenge is the scarcity of the tomato that would be sufficient for our daily production.

“The local tomato growers could not meet our production demand; we also could not agree with the farmers on the price of tomato per basket,” Kaita told Bloomberg.

Dangote to develop own farm with special tomato strain

To solve issues that forced its earlier shutdown, Dangote will develop own farm within the plant district with special tomato train and assist farmers with the seeding. This will help the factory to meet up with production demand.

According to the report, the company also said it has reached a deal with farmers to buy tomatoes at local market prices.

Nigeria to ban the importation of Tomato Paste this year

Last month, the Nigerian government said it is going ahead with the ban on the importation of tomato paste before the end of 2019.

Audu Ogbeh, Nigeria's minister of Agriculture, stated this at a meeting with local farmers in Kano. He said the aim was to encourage massive production of tomato.

Despite being among the largest producers of tomatoes in the world with millions of tomato farmers across the country, Nigeria import average of 150, 000 metric tonnes of tomato paste from China and other parts of the world annually.

If it works out, it will be a huge relief for Nigeria and help President Muhammadu Buhari's diversification policy at creating jobs and growing the non-oil sector of the economy.

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