Friday, February 19, 2016 8:00 am
The Wife of the President, Mrs Aisha Buhari, has urged Nigerians to patronise made in Nigeria goods with a view to creating employment and strengthening the country’s economy.
Mrs Buhari made the call when she inaugurated the Made in Nigeria Tomoto Paste Factory, Erisco Foods Limited, on Thursday in Lagos. The factory, with a capacity to produce 450,000 tonnes of tomato paste, is Africa’s largest and fourth in the world, according to its owners. It will locally produced tomatoes as raw material.
Mrs Buhari said that the need to patronise Nigerian goods had become necessary as it would encourage the production of local farm products and improve the health of citizens.
She also urged manufacturing companies in the country to emulate Erisco company by using locally available raw materials to produce their goods to ensure economic development.
The Chief Executive Officer of Erisco Foods Limited, Mr Eric Umeofia, urged the Federal Government to sustain the formulation of positive policies that would enhance the production capacity of manufacturers.
He said that the foreign exchange restriction of 41 items from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) official corridor had saved the country in foreign exchange and compelled Nigerians to patronise home-grown foods.
Umeofia said that the company had fast track its backward integration programme by developing a technology that synchronised its existing machines to produce tomato paste directly from fresh tomatoes to tomato paste and tomato ketchup.
He said “the Erisco Foods Revolution in tomato paste production will stop the annual wastage of over 75 per cent of fresh tomatoes across Nigeria.
“If we continue with the good policies of the present administration, there will be nothing like tomato glut anywhere in Nigeria in the next two years.
“We as off-takers will produce and process to meet our local demands and export to earn foreign exchange, provided government continues to support us.
“Our backward integration programme is planned for Jigawa, Sokoto and Katsina and will generate employment for 50,000 Nigerians within three years.’’
The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr Okechukwu Enelamah, said Nigeria imported 150 million tonnes of concentrated tomatoes worth N170 billion into the country annually.
Enelamah, who was represented by Alhaji Aminu Bisala, Permanent Secretary in the ministry, said that the local production of tomato paste would save Nigeria huge foreign exchange and create employment for its teeming population.
Mrs Buhari also visited the mother of the Vice President, Mama Olabisi Osinbajo at the Obanikoro area of Lagos, who celebrated her 83th birthday on Feb. 16.