Erisco Foods Limited, a member of the Erisco Bonpet Group, has concluded plans to employ over 50,000 workers when its multi-million naira tomato paste company begins production in a few months time.
The company, said to be the largest in Africa and the fourth largest in the world, was inaugurated last Friday. The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Erisco Group, Chief Eric Umeofia, said tomato paste production would stop the annual wastages 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 a tomato glut anywhere in Nigeria in the next two years. “We as off-taker will produce and process to meet our local demands and export to earn foreign exchange, provided government continues to support manufacturing,” he stated.
He noted that for the company to fast-track its backward integration programme, it has developed a technology that synchronises its existing machines to produce tomato paste and ketchup from fresh tomatoes.
“Our backward integration programmes planned for Jigawa, Sokoto and Katsina will generate employment and prosperity for 50, 000 Nigerians within three years,” he stated.
Umeofia said his Lagos company had an installed capacity of 450,000 metric tonnes per annum, making it the biggest in Africa and fourth largest in the world. He, however, urged the government to direct heads of government agencies in the industrial sector to prioritise local manufacturers over their foreign counterparts.
While urging Federal Government to sustain the formulation of policies that enhance the production capacity of manufacturers, he pleaded with government to stop giving undue advantage to those he called ‘briefcase’ foreign investors. These, he said, are investors who camouflage as industrialists but whose primary interest is to import finished goods as raw materials without paying taxes or the relevant customs duties.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Babachir Lawal, said government would continue to support the growth of indigenous businesses, especially in this period of economic downturn. Lawal, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Economic Affairs Office, Mr. Williams Alo, said the current economic reality calls for a decisive policy thrust to address issues which must be pragmatic enough to leverage on.
He said:”The major concern of government in this present circumstance is to continue to make policies and reforms as well as restore confidence to stabilise the economic fundamentals and also provide the necessary infrastructural platforms for industries to thrive on.
“Government will continue to intervene in policy formulation towards protecting our national interest and in the process providing a conducive atmosphere that will make production in Nigeria profitable, attractive and worth engaging,” he assured.
In his remarks, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah, said 150 million metric tonnes at the cost of N170 million of tomato concentrates is imported into the country annually.
Represented by a Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Alhaji Aminu Bisala, Enelamah noted that local production of tomato paste would save Nigeria foreign exchange and create employment.
Nigerian first lady, Hajia Aishat Buhari, who performed the commissioning, called on local manufactures to emulate Umeofia. She said: “Erisco has contributed to the growth of the local farmers in most states in the North where tomato farmers are located. I call on Nigerians to patronize Erisco Foods.”The Nation