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CBN expresses worry over N11.7b spent yearly to import tinned tomato

By on July 3, 2013

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has expressed dismay over a whooping N11.7 billion spent annually to import processed tomato paste on a yearly basis by the Nigerian government.

CBN Governor, Mallam Lamido Sanusi noted this Tuesday in his welcome address at a one-day stakeholders forum on ‘’Partnering to build a competitive Tomato Industry in Nigeria’’, in Abuja, said such a colosal sum of could better be used to grow the commodity locally, thereby helping to conserve scarce foreign exchange.

He blamed the wastage largely on the nation’s dysfunctional agricultural value chain system, as a result of which about 50 per cent of tomato grown in the country are lost to poor preservation, poor marketing distribution and access to markets.

Sanusi, who was represented by the CBN Deputy Governor, Economic Policy, Dr. Sarah Alade said, ‘’globally, Nigeria is the 14th largest producer of tomatoes and second only to Egypt in Africa at 1.51 million metric tonnes valued N87.0 billion with a cultivated area of 254,430 hectres.

“It is worrisome that as at today, Nigeria imports 65,809 tons of processed tomato paste valued at N11.7 billion annually. It is on this premise that the CBN intervened with programmes such as the N200 billion Commercial Agricultural Lending -NIRSAL to support the Federal Government’s Agricultural transformation Agenda–ATA.”

The initiatives, he continued, are being implemented to improve access to finance by the agri-business at single digit interest rate and as part of commitment towards revolutionalising the sector.

Under the N200 billion ‘Commercial Agricultural Credit Scheme,’ a total N199.25 billion has been disbursed “to 270 projects since inception, including 30 State Government projects, the SME Restructuring and Refinancing Fund-SMERRF disbursed, N235.00 billion to 535 projects also.