In a bid to boost local production and processing of fresh tomatoes, reduce pre and post-harvest losses, and also develop the value chain to improve revenue streams for tomato farmers, an N20b Tomato processing factory has been launched in Kebbi State.
The factory, built by GBfoods, a global culinary product manufacturer, in partnership with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Kebbi State Government and the Emirate of Yauri, is seen as the second largest in Nigeria and the only fully backward integrated plant in ECOWAS. Its target is to be the largest fresh tomato-processing factory in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The investment in the factory and adjoining farm includes drip irrigation and fertigation infrastructure, greenhouses, seed planting robots, an incubation chambers and a plethora of agricultural machinery.
The farm, according to the company, will serve a dual purpose– it will produce industrial tomatoes in the dry season and soya beans in the raining season. The tomato factory will convert fresh tomatoes into tomato concentrate used for producing Gino Tomatoes Paste and Gino Tomato Pepper Onion Paste, while the soya bean will be used to process soya-bean oil, which is a critical ingredient for GBfoods’ Bama and Jago Mayonnaise.
So far, the project has created over 1,000 jobs including 500 farming jobs, 150 factory jobs and 150 construction jobs. GBfoods also engaged many smallholder farmers as out-growers. Apart from training the out-growers on good agricultural practices, GBfoods provided them with tomatoes seedlings, agrochemicals and various equipment, such as water pumps and hose pipes, enabling the farmers’ access to water in the dry season. GBfoods also supported the host communities by providing and maintaining 16 boreholes of drinking water, a first for some of the surrounding villages.
The Chief Executive Officer of GBfoods Africa, Mr. Vicenç Bosch, who commended the Federal Government for encouraging and supporting the company to engage the CBN, Ministries, Departments and Agencies to ensure the successful completion of the factory, said their team of extension workers, consultants and agronomists are ensuring that the Nigerian farmers benefit from the technology transfer of their best practices and know-how built through over 40 years of successful tomato operations in Italy and Spain.
“The factory is fully backwardly integrated to the company’s farm and dedicated out-growers. In the coming tomatoes season, the plant will also source most of its raw material from out-growers who will grow the tomatoes on their own farms and from GBfoods’ owned and operated farm. The factory is engaging over 5,000 smallholder farmers as out-growers, in the coming tomatoes season, to grow fresh tomatoes.”
Speaking at the opening of the factory, The Country Manager, GBfoods Nigeria, Mr. Vincent Egbe, said: “The opening of this processing factory is a great milestone for us. It further demonstrates the company’s commitment towards helping Nigeria achieve its food security ambition, in this case, of self-sufficiency in tomato concentrate production.