Highlights of TechnoServe’s maiden tomato investment roundtable

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The maiden edition of the Nigeria Tomato Investment Roundtable was held recently in Dutse, Jigawa State under the theme: “Expanding Pathways for Investment in the Tomato Value Chain.”  The event was hosted by the Jigawa State Government in collaboration with TechnoServe and with the support of Rockefeller Foundation and the Syngenta Foundaton for Sustainable Agriculture.  

Nigeria is the second largest producer of tomato on the African continent, after Egypt; however, 40% of tomatoes produced in the country are lost between the farms and the market for several reasons including poor handling practices, lack of processing facilities and bad road networks.

It is against this backdrop that the maiden Nigeria Tomato Investment Roundtable was held last week Saturday in Dutse, Jigawa State under the theme: “Expanding Pathways for Investment in the Tomato Value Chain.”  The event was hosted by the Jigawa State Government in collaboration with TechnoServe and with the support of Rockefeller Foundation and the Syngenta Foundaton for Sustainable Agriculture.

TechnoServe is an international nonprofit that promotes business solutions to poverty across 29 countries of the developing world including Africa by linking people to information, capital and markets. In Nigeria they are currently implementing the ‘Promoting Rice and Tomato Farmers Livelihood in Nigeria’ program with the support of ExxonMobil, the world’s largest publicly traded international oil and gas company, and Syngenta, the global agribusiness company producing agrochemicals and seeds.

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In his welcome remarks at the event, Ibrahim Hadejia, deputy governor of Jigawa state described tomato production as an essential component of Nigeria’s agribusiness system and decried the fact that most of the tomato and other perishables being produced in the country were being lost during post-harvest, due to poor handling and lack of processing facilities, amongst others.

“Nigeria is spending up to $1 billion annually to import tomato paste even though we are the second largest producer of tomato in Africa.  I therefore want to thank TechnoServe for supporting and training tomato farmers in Jigawa State which will help them improve their yield and reduce post-harvest losses associated with poor handling and lack of access to processing facilities,” says Hadejia.

Also speaking at the event, Larry Umunna, Country Director of TechnoServe Nigeria said the first tomato investment roundtable offered prospective investors  as well as stakeholders in the tomato value chain the opportunity to understand the value chain as well identify areas of public private partnership.

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“Technoserve is assisting 45,000 smallholder farmers of tomato across Kano, Jigawa, Katsina, Kaduna and Plateau states with access to technology as well as inputs. However, partnership with the government is very critical for achieving success i.e enabling environment for investment and sustainable tomato chain,” added Umunna.

While delivering a paper on the investment opportunities in the tomato industry in Nigeria, Dr Muhammad Sagagi an economist and investment expert who was also the pioneer director general of the Jigawa Investment Promotion Agency (InvestJigawa) described the opportunities as enormous and decried the fact that Nigeria was still importing up to half of its 3.5 million metric tons of its tomato need, annually.

Sagagi added that for Nigeria to be self-sufficient in tomato the country needed at least 124 tomato processing facilities across the states where the perishable crop is grown.

“There is a growing output gap and market for tomato in the country. We are not competitive due to lack of access to finance, power and infrastructure; hence, at the moment about 45 percent of the total output is being wasted to poor post-harvest management. This wastage provides investment opportunity for willing investors.

“We also have the challenge of value addition, according to a study conducted under the Growth and Employment in States (GEMS4), a programme of the Department for International Development (DFID) and World Bank, Nigeria needed about 124 tomato processing facilities spread across all the parts of the country where tomato is cultivated. This is another huge investment gap,” stated Sagagi.

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Also speaking at the event, Dr Aliyu Abbati Abdulhameed, Managing Director of the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) said one of the challenges affecting the tomato sector in Nigeria was that tomato famers in the country were scattered and not close to one another hence the difficulty in providing services.

“Tomato growers were scattered so we had to map out the farmers across the country into clusters and now creating a governance structure which we believe will attract service provisions to them. We are also coming up with a technology that will address post-harvest loss and also providing modular processing facilities at the cluster level, in a partnership with  a German company that provides solutions across the Tomato value-chain,” says Dr Abdulhameed.

 

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