She made the remark during the launching of Erisco Foods tomato paste revolution which involved innovative processing and production of tomato paste directly from fresh tomatoes.
Buhari noted that to be part of the inauguration of a made-in Nigeria fresh tomato paste factory was part of the change process. She also commended the management of Erisco Foods for their ability to produce 450,000 metric tons of tomato paste using locally grown tomatoes.
She said, “It is important also to note that in addition to local production of tomato paste, this company also provides employment opportunities to our teeming youths, contributing immensely to economic activities and growth. This will also encourage our local farmers to increase their production of the indigenous tomatoes.
“Importantly, this initiative will also contribute to the improvement of the health of our citizens.
“Let me at this point call on our manufacturing companies, particularly those involved in the production of consumables, to emulate Erisco by manufacturing products using locally available raw materials.”
The President’s wife also commended legislators for turning down foreigners’ request to lift the ban on importation, adding, “I think we have imported enough. We thank them so much for defending the policies of this country.
“By defending the policies, we have Erisco Foods replacing the imports that we use to have. We are now sure of what we are eating because we produce tomatoes in excess and it is good to have a company that can process it in metric tons.”
The Managing Director, Erisco Foods, Chief Eric Umeofia, noted that the innovation was made possible because of the policies of the federal government specifically the forex restrictions on 41 items including tomato paste concentrate.
He said, “This bold step, apart from saving our scarce foreign exchange, will compel Nigerians to go back to the basics of eating our own home-grown food which is better, healthier and more economically sound for us as a people in the long run as many other countries do.
“Erisco Foods Limited is the biggest in Africa and fourth largest in the world with robust plans for backward integration that has been ongoing over the past three years.
“The Erisco Foods revolution in tomato paste production will stop the annual wastage of over 75 per cent of fresh tomatoes across Nigeria. If we continue with the good policies of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, there will be nothing like tomato glut anywhere in Nigeria in the next two years.”
He stated further that the firm currently had staff strength of 1,600 adding that the number should increase to 9000 in the Lagos factory alone at optimum capacity.
He said, “Our backward integration programmes planned for Jigawa, Sokoto and Katsina will generate employment for 50,000 Nigerians within three years while off-takers and distributors and retailers will be in hundreds of thousands,” he said