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Oil isn't Nigeria's only problem sector

Monday, February 29, 2016 - 01:35

Nigeria is Africa's second largest tomato producer with 1.5 million tonnes of tomatoes annually, yet 45 percent of the produce will often perish. As Jagdip Cheema reports, there aren't enough factories to process what is a staple food in the West African country.

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Africa's largest economy has been in doldrums recently. Lower crude prices has wiped billions off Nigeria's GDP. But it's not just the oil sector which is struggling. The tomato industry has also been hit by the downturn. The weaker naira is partly to blame, so too is lower government spending, meaning more power cuts. But some believe that's not the only reason. Eric Umeofia is Chief Executive of Lagos tomato firm Erisco. (SOUNDBITE) (English) PRESIDENT, ERISCO FOODS LIMITED, ERIC UMEOFIA, SAYING: "The market for tomato paste in Nigeria is huge, about 800,000 metric tonnes per year. But the problem now is that the market is being created in China." Tomatoes are a key ingredient in many local dishes, including Jollof rice and tomato stew. But last year alone, local consumers spent $410 million on imported tomatoes. Now some want President Muhammadu Buhari to do more, after he promised to strengthen the agriculture sector. Economist Bolaji Okusaga. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ECONOMIC ANALYST, BOLAJI OKUSAGA, SAYING: "We spend in the range of 400 to 500 million dollars annually just purely importing tomato paste and puree. It is a sad affair because we've got local capacity to actually produce it" It's again a similar story to oil - Nigeria is a big crude exporter but it has no refineries. And has to buy back a commodity it produces - often at too high a cost

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Oil isn't Nigeria's only problem sector

Monday, February 29, 2016 - 01:35