– Aisha Buhari commissioned ERISCO Foods Limited tomato processing factory in Oregun, Lagos state – Mrs Buhari tasked government regulatory agencies to check the import of foreign and substandard foods into the country
Aisha Buhari, the wife of President Muhammadu Buhari, Toyin Saraki, the wife of the Senate president, and Bolanle Ambode, the first lady of Lagos state, were among dignitaries to grace the commissioning of a tomato processing factory in Oregun, Lagos state, on Thursday, February 18.
The Sun reports that ERISCO Foods Limited commissioned its new 450,000 tonnes tomato paste processing plant constructed at a cost of N4 billion ($150 million).
While inaugurating the plant, Mrs Buhari tasked government regulatory agencies to check the import of foreign and substandard foods into the country to protect local manufacturers and the health of Nigerians “I think we have imported enough and we have to change that culture of importing things we can produce locally.
“This is part of the change we are talking about that must happen in the country. Local food manufacturers have to be encouraged to grow as that is the only way to create employment for the youths and help local farmers to benefit more from their labour.
Nigerians must also patronize local companies and their products,” she said.
Also speaking, Eric Umeofia, the president/CEO of Erisco Foods, said the new plant uses the latest technology that allows fresh tomatoes sourced from local farmers to be processed into tomato paste.
Umeofia explained that the idea of the new plant was born out of the need to resolve the glut in the tomato products from local farmers.
“I visited northern Nigeria frequently in the recent past and I saw how more than 75% of tomatoes harvested yearly are being wasted. Sadly, however, Nigeria spends about $1 billion importing tomato paste from abroad.
All that will end with the inauguration of this project. Our new technology in this facility puts an end to all the waste Nigerian farmers are suffering over the years because it is a backward integration project investment we have made for Nigeria.
“We can now take 10 trucks of fresh tomatoes daily and process the fresh tomatoes to tomato paste and this factory is the first of its kind in Africa,” he said.
Senator Ben Murray Bruce and the Senate president Bukola Saraki have recently started the campaign to encourage patronage of made-in-Nigeria products.
Hajia Aisha Abubakar, the minister of state for industry, trade and investment, revealed that the federal government has also made plans to launch a campaign that will encourage people to patronise made-in-Nigeria products.
“We have the people, we have the brain, we have the resources, and so there is nothing stopping us.
As a nation we are proud of our commodities, we are proud of our products,” she said.