As Nigeria is set to implement a policy banning the importation of tomato paste into the country, stakeholders in the tomato value chain under the auspices of the Nigeria YieldWise Initiative were recently at the Saint Louis River Bank Irrigation Scheme, in Republic of Senegal, on a learning and exchange visit to explore best practices regarding the development of the value chain of tomato in Nigeria.
The Nigerian delegation included government representatives, agricultural input providers, agricultural financing agencies, tomato processors and representatives of farmer groups, amongst others.
While in Senegal, the delegates had an interactive session with Society for the Management, Exploitation and Development of Agriculture (SAED), which is the Senegalese government’s agency responsible for coordinating agricultural development including the activities of farmers and other actors in the agribusiness value chain.
The team which was led by Kano State Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources Nasiru Yusuf Gawuna and the Director of the Rockefeller Foundation’s YieldWise Initiative Rafael Flore, visited a number of tomato farms at the Dagana irrigated area and the SOCAS Tomato processing plant in Senegal’s Northern River Valley.
Speaking during a debriefing meeting, the leader of the delegation and Kano State Commissioner for Agriculture Nasiru Yusuf Gawuna, confirmed the state government’s commitment to review its Tomato Innovative Platform to reflect the structure of Senegal Tomato Committee as the face lift will eventually increase its efficiency and effectiveness to cater for the need of all players in the tomato value chain.
In the last few decades, the Senegalese government has successfully implemented a policy banning importation of tomato paste. The country offers processors a waiver to import tomato paste triple concentrate only when the local famers’ produce is exhausted.
One of the best practices the members of the Nigerian delegation learnt was the Senegal Tomato Committee, which has representatives from all segments of the tomato value chain and coordinates tomato business in the country. The committee’s effort has seen the price of tomato remain at 52 CFA per kilogram in the last five years, as agreed by both farmers’ organizations and the tomato processors.
SAED has made agricultural financing easy in the country, being the agency is responsible for screening loan applications by farmers and forwarding them to the National Agricultural Bank of Senegal for timely approval and disbursement to the beneficiaries . It ensures loans to farmers are guaranteed by the government within two weeks and that repayment is achived without rancor.
Nigeria is the world’s 14th producer of tomatoes and second only to Egypt in the African region, according to the International Journal of Science; it produces about 1.5 million metric tons of tomatoes annually as against the estimated domestic demand of 2.3 million metric tons.
Every year, Nigeria imports processed tomato paste worth three hundred million USDs, experts believe with more than 254, 430 hectors available for cultivation, the country is not only capable of catering for its domestic need for tomatoes but also has the capacity to export tomato to boost its dwindling economy.
The Nigeria YieldWise Initiative is a multi-year regional initiative in Africa focused on food security and livelihood and is being implemented in Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, and Tanzania. In Nigeria, it promotes tomato value chain with the cardinal objective of reducing post-harvest losses and increasing the income of smallholder farmers in the Nigerian states of Kano, Katsina and Jigawa.