The Spokesperson for Tomato Union of Nigeria (TUN) has proffered alternatives to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) over the inclusion of tomato paste triple concentrate in the Forex policy which placed restrictions on 41 items. Mr.Nnamdi Nnodebe, the Managing Director, Sonia Foods Industries Limited and stakeholder in the production of tomato paste variants has not relented in his drive to defend the local manufacturers of tomato paste.
According to Nnodebe who spoke from his Lagos office on Tuesday: “the FX policy continues to encourage smuggling of inferior tomato paste brands through the borders. The only way to save the industry is for CBN to either remove tomato paste triple concentrate from the FX policy restrictions or provide the raw materials in question to the industry; if the local producers of tomato paste get the raw materials directly from CBN this would save the industry from collapse and also help the government avoid creating more job loss.”
“It is no more profitable to produce locally hence the closures. How do you expect producers of tomato paste in Nigeria to compete with their foreign counterparts that have uninterrupted power supply, good roads and distribution network, subsidised loans from their governments. The major material used by the local brands, triple concentrate, has been taken away through this Forex policy” Nnodebe lamented.
Tomato Paste Triple Concentrate is a crucial ingredient used to process Consumer products such as packs of tomato paste, ketchup, sauces etc.It is important for the Government to recognize that the packing industry is an essential component of the tomato paste value chain and without this sector there can be no link between the farmer and the final consumer.
Nigerian homes make use of tomato paste to cook numerous delicacies such as jollof rice, rice and stew, yam and stew, egusi soup and many others.
Nnodebe said: “Christmas and New Year celebrations were dry and if you can remember, we predicted this because you cannot talk about the Christmas or New Year rice and stew without talking about tomato both fresh and paste, as most people use both to bring out the best in their cooking. So many people couldn’t afford tomato products during the festive season and if the FX policy is not lifted Easter celebrations will be the same.”
The value of imported tomato paste in Nigeria used to be about 170 million USD (before the CBN ban on 41 items). The imported triple concentrate tomato paste used as raw material by the packers used to be around 50 million USD out of the 170 Million USD (2014).