A senior Executive of Dangote Group of companies, Devakumar Edwin has revealed that a Kano based tomato Paste Company owned by Africa richest man, Aliko Dangote has been shut down due to shortage of dollars needed to import raw materials. This is the second of such closures in months, in a blow to the Federal Government’s drive to diversify the economy.
President Muhammadu Buhari frequently speaks of ending Nigeria’s dependency on oil exports by boosting food production, repeating his mantra: “We must produce what we eat.”
But the country is mired in recession and struggling with dollar shortages due to low oil prices.
Entrepreneurs say the crisis has been worsened by the central bank’s decision to keep an artificially high exchange rate, which has dried up dollar supplies, forcing firms to buy them on the black market at a 40 per cent premium.“Where the foreign exchange is not available, we are cutting down our operations. For example, we had a tomato-based processing plant, we have shut it down,” Tomato paste is a staple food in Nigeria but the country imports much of its supplies from China. Dangote’s plant opened only last year amid much talk from officials predicting a new era of Nigeria producing its own tomato paste, displacing costly imports.
The dollar scarcity has also forced Dangote to cut down on other food businesses such as flour milling, sugar refining and vegetable oil refining, Edwin said. The tomato plant may reopen once the company is able to source raw tomatoes locally, he said.

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