Tomato Jos
Tomato Jos $5m Processing Facility Groundbreaking Ceremony
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By Ozoemena Noel Nonso

The CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele applauded Tomato Jos, host community, industry stakeholders, the State Governor and the CBN for efforts in sustaining industrialization of agriculture in Nigeria, at the Groundbreaking ceremony of the company’s $5m Processing Facility in Kaduna State.

Tomato Jos is a subsidiary of Tomato Jos Incorporated with 5 years of impact in scalable, high-yielding tomatoes and maize production, as well as food processing for the Nigerian and West African Markets with a mission to create a new middle class in Nigeria’s rural communities through agriculture.

More than N1.5 billion has been invested in Tomato Jos farms with another N1.75 billion in place for 2020, making it the largest Tomato farm business in Kaduna State and the largest ‘active contiguous’ tomato farm in Nigeria.

Tomato is an important food in the typical Nigerian kitchen, since it constitutes major ingredient for 100s of delicacies Nigerians eat every day. According to the CBN Governor, FAO estimates that Nigeria’s local demand for tomatoes is over 2.93 million metric tonnes with the local production being around 1.7m tonnes, leaving a deficit of 1.2 milliion, equivalent to 2.5bn dollars.

What this means is that Nigeria loses such amount of FOREX to a product that can easily be cultivated in the country with the right level of support.

The CBN has adopted a famous Multi Commodity approach which blacklisted some products from Nigeria’s local FOREX market, including tomatoes and tomato paste, in a bid to support local producers.

In his statement, the CBN Governor mentioned, “One of the items declared not valued for forex is tomatoes and tomato paste in which the import bill at the time was significantly contributing to the pressure on our FOREX reserves.

Pursuant to the above, we introduced the commodities champion model during the first quarter of 2019 in the CBN, to stimulate production of tomatoes and strengthen the end to end leakages to the value chain from input supplies to the final consumer.

The strategy adopted is largely hinged on the twin approach of out grower and contractual arrangement in the short to medium term and backward integration in the medium to long term.”

Starting off in Nassarawa, and now to Kaduna State, the company has trained thousands of farmers in the practice of growing quality tomatoes at scale, providing loans, extension services and buying their harvests at a standardized price when due.

Over the years, the company has found a way to improve on Nigeria’s yield/hectare average of 5MT/Ha, to hit a peak production capacity of 35MT/Ha across its farms and farming networks.

This is made possible by the visionary leadership of Harvard-trained Miss Mira Mehta, MD of Tomato Jos.

In her opening speech, Mira Mehta states, “The Tomato Jos vision is very simple. Local production for local consumption. And our goal is very clear. We want to create a rural class in rural Nigeria through the industrialization of agriculture.”

In achieving this, Tomato Jos plans to grow, process and mix tomato paste and related products for consumption across the country, hence connecting every Nigerian household to as much tomato farmers as possible.

This is important since Nigeria’s tomato deficit problem goes way beyond production. According to Miss Mehta, part of her inspiration for starting the business, was seeing farmers dry their tomatoes on tarred highways since they lacked capital and tech to store the highly perishable product in and out of season.

Infact, a PWC report shows that Nigeria produces as much as it consumes (2.3 million tonnes) in tomatoes. However, it loses close to half of the produce in the value chain (1 million tonnes).

This may have inspired Miss Mehta to start Tomato Jos and the occasion of the ground breaking of their processing facility is an icing on the cake of their mission, “local production for local consumption.”

The processing facility at full capacity, will produce 150, 000 tons of Tomato paste per annum on a potential 400 hectares of farmland, about 10% of Nigeria’s domestic consumption. The facility will also employ 5,000 people, a 100% increase from the current 2, 500 people currently employed in the farm.

These job opportunities have been the mission of the CBN in encouraging agricultural industrialization in the country. Tomato Jos credits its successes to the CBN’s ban of tomato paste import.

“What we are saying is that with your passion and interest and the support of government, you can create jobs, not only for yourself, but also create jobs for other people and be an example for other young people growing in Nigeria,” the CBN Governor said in praise of Miss Mehta and every other investor in Nigeria.

“Thank you very much,” he adds.

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