The executive director of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Mr. Olusegun Awolowo, has declared that the country has put in place necessary facilities to make locally produced tomatoes exportable and acceptable in foreign country.
Speaking on Thursday in Benin, Edo State at the first harvest launch of Wells Hosa Green House Farms Limited, Awolowo said Nigeria was set to hit the global market with quality agro-allied products.
He commended the company for deploying greenhouse technology to produce exportable tomatoes stressing that the export drive for Nigeria’s agricultural produce had reached a stage of no return.
With the technology, the NEPC chief said “Nigeria can now start to export tomatoes to every part of the world.”
He added that the technology would bring to an end the era of Nigeria’s tomatoes being infected by different forms of diseases hence its unacceptability overseas.
Awolowo also said the federal government had endorsed greenhouse farming to boost food production in the country.
He said prior to the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, agriculture was downplayed but pointed out that with Wells Hosa Green House Farms initiative, Nigerians had begun to see agriculture as a business and an investment.
“He (Buhari) wants to create wealth for the people in Edo State and also creating job opportunities. It is a good idea to use the green house technology, because all year round they would be growing and you can see the massive project he has embarked on and I believe if it is not the biggest in Africa it will be the biggest in West Africa.
“From green-house technology, you will not get any form of tomato diseases because they are covered and restricted and those are the kind of tomatoes we can export because it is easy to get into supermarkets across the world,” he said.
Awolowo further stated that local producers had increased, courtesy of the federal government’s ease of doing business’
He expressed the hope that more products would find their way on the shelves of stores and supermarkets across the country.
“This technology will help to satisfy our local consumption and already most of our stores and supermarkets are filled with made-in-Nigeria goods because everybody is now producing and the ones that their goods are export-certified would be taken abroad,” he added.
Earlier in his remarks, the chairman of Wells Hosa Green House Farms Ltd, Capt. Idahosa Wells Okunbo, said agriculture is key to changing the Nigerian narrative.
He said with green house technology, Nigeria could produce quality and exportable tomatoes for local and global needs while also creating wealth and job opportunities in the country.
“People are seeing tomatoes, but I am seeing more than tomatoes. I am seeing jobs for the youths, empowerment, I am seeing food security for the country and export of our tomatoes to earn foreign exchange. It is a project that having gone through the challenges and now we have a prototype and it is a project that is scalable and which we can also replicate across the country.
“Regardless of the weather, we can produce all kinds of tomato fruits and vegetable obtainable anywhere in the world. For me, it is a breakthrough and I thank God for using me as a vehicle to make this project achievable. Our narrative in Nigeria has to change, for me agriculture is the only way we can change our narratives, create jobs for our children, and attain our manifest destiny”, Okunbo, a retired military.