Noah Ebije, Kaduna
Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai was visibly in a happy mood Monday when he hosted the groundbreaking ceremony for the tomato processing factory called Tomato Jos in the state.
The Governor said that the Kaduna State welcomes the fact that processing facilities owned by private investors are being located across the state, and are complementing the northwestern state’s capacity as a top food producer in the country.
Founder and Chief Executive of Tomato Jos Mira Mehta said that her company intends to invest N10.25 billion over five years in its farming, processing and marketing activities which she said included the N1.5 billion already invested and another N1.75 billion earmarked for building and installing the processing facility in 2020.
The event, held in Kangimi, Igabi Local Government Area of the State, was witnessed by CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele, US Ambassador to Nigeria Mary Beth Leonard, and John Coumantaros, Chairman of Flour Mills of Nigeria.
El-Rufai said it is the second groundbreaking event in 10 days for an agriculture-related investment in the state.
“Ten days ago, on Friday, 17th January 2020, we were in Kubau Local Government Area to break ground for the Damau Milk Farm, our joint project with Arla Foods, designed as a pragmatic and sustainable solution to the security challenges that now accompany nomadic livestock production, create jobs and boost domestic production of milk and milk products.
“Today, we are excited that Tomato Jos is expanding its investment footprint in our state by taking a leap from growing tomato and other crops to building a processing facility to make tomato paste. With its farm in Kangimi, in Igabi Local Government Area, Tomato Jos has already impacted on its community, creating jobs and empowering its outgrowers with modern farming techniques and a route to market.
“The Kaduna State Government welcomes this latest investment in the agricultural potentials of our state. Olam showed the way back in 2017 when President Muhammadu Buhari commissioned the hatchery and feed mill project that this multinational sited in our Chikun Local Government Area,” the Governor said.
El-Rufai said that Kaduna State is well-endowed with farming potential with vast arable land and many water sources, and is the top producer of maize, ginger, sorghum and tomatoes.
He congratulated Mira Mehta for locating Tomato Jos in Kaduna and responding with investments to all the support offered her company by the Kaduna State Government and its agencies. He wished her success “in growing this business and helping to deepen the position of Kaduna State as not only a major farming state but also a significant location for agro-processing businesses.”
The Governor said the state welcomes the combination of primary production and industrial capacity that Tomato Jos investment signifies.
El-Rufai noted that firms like Olam and Tomato Jos demonstrate why Kaduna State is ranked as the number one destination for doing business in Nigeria by the World Bank’s Doing Business Report.
“It is an accolade we are working hard to retain, not for popularity, but for the concrete results it brings in attracting and retaining new investments in Kaduna State.
“Our approach to business is to be an enabler and a facilitator of value-creation. It is imperative to encourage and support the private sector to create jobs, transfer skills and technology and contribute to public revenues. We have often said that our approach to business is simple: we are very friendly, and we become friendlier with those who create jobs and pay tax.”