Abuja - The Federal Government will this year prioritise tomato
paste processing as part of its strategic implementation plan, President
Muhammadu Buhari said on Monday in Abuja.
He said this while declaring open the 2016 Africa Economic
Conference with the theme: “Feed Africa: Towards agro-allied industrialization
for inclusive growth.’’
Represented by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, he
said that the decision to have tomato paste processed in Nigeria was a
strategic implementation plan to become self-sufficient in the product.
“The choice of tomato is predicated on our ability to
produce tomatoes in large quantities several times a year as well as its
extensive use in Nigerian meals.
“There is of course the opportunity to generate a large
number of agricultural jobs and also as a means to adding value along the
He said that there were many factors that affected the
nation’s aspirations in this regard.
He said there was the need to plant the appropriate quality
of the food to be used for processing.
Buhari also said that a lot of small scale farms were not
linked to large farms, so they faced the problems of transportation and
storage, especially where tomatoes were ripe, posing additional challenges.
“Operators still have to contend with issues of
infrastructure, especially power generation.
“This is a very important issue because it goes to the very
heart of being competitive against import from other parts of the world which
have penetrated the market.
“We currently have to carry out appropriate levels of
support and protection for this sector.’’
He also identified high cost of finance as a factor tomato
farmers and tomato paste manufacturers have to contend with.
He added that the government was trying to mitigate this
through its development institutions like the Bank of Agriculture and the Bank
Another intervention, he said, was the micro farmers credit
scheme targeting small scale farmers.
Buhari commended the contributions of the African
Development Bank (AfDB) in supporting Nigeria towards economy diversification.
“The recent support of 600 million dollars provided by AfDB
as the first tranche of the planned one billion dollar support to Nigeria will
certainly go a long way in helping the country to further pursue reforms in the
“The government is also keen in ensuring that Nigeria adds
value to what it produces.
“This is why we are very pleased that the AfDB will be supporting
Nigeria in the development of a staple crop processing zone and other
The AfDB President, Mr Akinwunmi Adesina, said agriculture,
which contributes over 28 per cent of the GDP of Africa, holds the key for the
accelerated growth, diversification and job creation for African economies.
He, however, lamented the poor performance of the sector in
Africa, adding that it was still dominated by large number of subsistence
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He also said that the sector suffered from low levels of
public investment, including access to finance for farmers and agribusinesses.
“Agriculture has largely been seen as a development sector
for managing poverty and not for creating wealth.
“Yet Africa sits on a huge potential of agriculture; it is
estimated that about 65 per cent of uncultivated arable land left in the world
that will feed nine billion people by 2050 lies in Africa.
“What Africa does with agriculture will shape the future of
Adesina said that estimates had shown that food and
agri-business sector was projected to grow from 330 billion dollars today to
one trillion dollars by 2050.
He said that the key to achieving that was to start with
treating agriculture as a business.
“It must start with taking a full value chain approach to
modernise agriculture, from the farm to the table and it must start with
supporting agro-industrial development.
“Africa must rapidly invest in the development of its
agro-industry, and move away from being seen as just a billion mouths to feed.
“Africa must learn from experiences elsewhere, where
agriculture has been the foundation for driving fast- paced economic growth, by
building a strong food and agro-industrial manufacturing base quickly.’’
Adesina said that the key to Africa’s prosperity was value
addition in agriculture, in turning products to money and in looking inwards,
adding that Africa should feed itself.
He said that to take new agricultural technologies to scale,
the Bank will soon launch a new 800 million dollars initiative called
Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT).
He said that the aim was to reach 40 million farmers over a
10 year period.
He also said the Bank would invest 24 billion dollars in agriculture
and agribusiness over the next 10 years under its Feed Africa strategy.
“Our goal is simple; support massive agro-industrial
development all across Africa.
“To make this happen, there is need for well-directed public
policies to incentivise the agricultural sector, especially agribusiness and
food manufacturing companies.’’
Mr Abdoulaye Dieye, Director, Regional Bureau for Africa,
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), said that unless agriculture was
fully transformed, Africa would remain trapped in a low productivity cycle.
He also said harnessing the power of greater regional
integration through regional and global value chains, is critical to achieving
economic diversification, competitiveness, technology and knowledge transfer.
He advised African governments to work with their bilateral
and multilateral partners to support the agro-allied industrialisation agenda.
“In this regard, developed and emerging countries must work
to remove unfair trade barriers, eliminate harmful agricultural export
“They must also reduce regional protectionism that limits
Africa’s access to markets and makes the continent a dumping ground.’’
The three-day event will end on Wednesday.
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