Following his recent trip to France on the entourage of President Muhammadu Buhari, Chief Eric Umeofia, the President of Erisco Foods Limited, manufacturers of Ric-Giko, Nagiko and Erisco Tomato Paste brands as well as other food products has declared that with the efforts of the Buhari administration and the useful interactions of Nigerian manufacturers and investors with their French counterparts during the visit, Nigeria will soon be the preferred destination for genuine Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) and partnerships in Africa.
Chief Eric Umeofia also known in manufacturing circles as The Tomato King led his team to seek technical partnerships with experts in backward integration executions as well as experts in the tomato value-chain. This is in order to kick-start his vision of developing the tomato industry from the basic modernised plantations to setting up of refinery plants for conversion of the harvested tomatoes into concentrate. The concentrate thus produced will eventually lead to the stoppage of importation of foreign concentrate for use in Nigeria tomato paste factories such as in Erisco Foods’ 240,000 tonnes per annum factory in Oregun, Lagos State. The factory is reputed to be the largest tomato paste factory in Africa with plans to become the third largest in the world by the first quarter of 2016 with an increased production capacity of 450,000 metric tonnes per annum.
Erisco Foods is already in the process of launching massive tomato plantations through backward integration in Sokoto, Jigawa, Katsina and Zamfarastates. Chief Umeofia, has been a vocal crusader for Nigerian government and the international community to support indigenous manufacturers and local investors as the fast and effective means of revamping the floundering fortunes of Africa’s most populous nation. It is Chief Umeofia’s firm belief that serious investors can only come into an economy such as Nigeria’s if her own nationals have staked impressive investments of their own provided that financial institutions are prepared to give the requisite support in line with President Buhari’s economic agenda.