Many tomato farmers in Kebbi State are now taking part in the out-grower scheme that will provide raw materials for the N20 billion tomato processing company recently established in the state.
Culinary products manufacturer, GBFoods, in partnership with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Kebbi State Government and the Yauri Emirate, had established the processing factory in Gafara village, Ngaski Local Government Area of the state.
Although the company is yet to be commissioned officially due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it has since last month started production by processing fresh tomatoes into concentrate for tomato paste, while soya-beans would be processed into oil and mayonnaise.
Gafara village, where the factory is located, is about 270 kilometers away from Birnin Kebbi, the state capital and about 60 kilometers away from the Yauri-Kontagora highway.
Locals in the agrarian host communities are expecting employment opportunities, as well as exposure to modern farming techniques.
Although our correspondent was denied access to the company’s premises due to the COVID-19 protocols, according to an official, it was gathered that in order to meet the maximum requirement for its supply of the needed raw materials, the company established 1,000 hectares of farmland, equipped with drip irrigation and fertigation infrastructure, greenhouses and agricultural machinery for the production of tomatoes during dry season and soya-beans at wet season.
During an e-mail interaction, Innocent Nwani of Hill & Knowlton, a Lagos-based media agent to the company, said the 1,000 hectares of farm acquired by the company had the capacity to produce 40 metric tons of tomatoes per hectare. He said the company planned to engage over 5,000 tomatoes out-growers, 150 factory workers and another 150 at the construction site.
He further explained that the company was established through a partnership with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Kebbi State Government and Yauri Emirate. He added that the Emir of Yauri, Alhaji Mohammad Zayyanu had played a significant role in attracting the direct foreign investment to his domain.
He said the company engaged many smallholder farmers as out-growers, and that apart from training the out-growers on good agricultural practice, they provided them with tomato seedlings, agrochemical and various equipment, such as water pumps and hose pipes that would enable the farmers to access water in dry season.
“The factory will convert fresh tomatoes into concentrates used for producing pastes, while soya-beans will be used to process oil, which is a critical ingredient for GBFoods’ Bama and Jago mayonnaise,’’ he said.
How it will benefit the locals
Some members of the host communities of the company had commended the establishment of the company in their localities, saying that many of them are already employed as security men, construction workers and farm labours.
Adamu Umar Warah, who holds the traditional title of Sarkin Samari, said he was part of the 200 out-growers selected by the company for the production of tomatoes. He added that they had already undergone a two-day training on modern farming of tomatoes.
Warah added that he knew of many that were recruited by the company as security men, and expects more developmental projects.
Suleiman Salihu, a youth leader in Ngaski Local Government, said several villages around the host communities started enjoying potable water after the company drilled 15 boreholes.
It is believed that the presence of the company in the rural community would expose many of the farmers to modern ways of producing tomatoes.