Established to process 1 200 metric tons of tomatoes each day and produce 400 000 tons of paste annually, the Dangote Farms factory, just outside the northern city of Kano, was designed to meet Nigeria’s domestic needs and help cut paste imports of 300 000 tons a year from China.
It was expected to help put to better use the 900 000 tons of tomatoes that rot as waste annually out of Nigeria’s yearly harvest of about 1.5 million tons. About 8 000 farmers in the Kadawa Valley, near Kano, signed to supply the factory, were guaranteed a price of about $700 per ton compared with an average of less than $350 in the domestic market, according to estimates by the central bank.
They’re now wary of planting after the invasion of tomato
leaf-miner pests last year ruined more than a third of
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“We don’t have enough supply,” Kaita said in a May 15
interview in his office, explaining why the factory had to shut. “We are hoping
to reopen when we get the supplies that meet our demand.” Closing of the
factory, developed after a study by the central bank, is a setback for
It also shows how the grub, also known as tuta absoluta, is
devastating African tomato crops since arriving from South America through
The factory started operations in March last year, producing at full capacity, before closing a month later as the crop losses took their toll. Since then it has operated in fits and starts, working last between February and March, said Kaita.
Across the country the price of tomatoes has jumped, rising
as much as threefold in some parts, on the impact of the pest described locally
as the “tomato ebola,” according to a survey of buyers.
The National Horticultural Research Institute in
“A lot of farmers producing tomatoes every year ran away from the crop this season,” Abubakar Hamishu, a research officer at the institute said in an interview. The organization is promoting this method of pest control, “which is affordable, to help the farmers,” he said.
Musa Alasan, who grew tomatoes on his 7-acre [2.8-hectare] farm, allocated only one acre for the crop this year while planting wheat on the rest.
“I lost almost everything, so I was really afraid to plant
tomatoes again,” he said by phone from his farm in Samawa, near