Skip to content
Subscriber Only

Billionaire Dangote Can’t Get Enough Tomatoes to Run Plant Profitably

  • Factory struggles to get enough berries to boost output
  • Tomato plant processing just enough to remain operational
Vendors sell fresh tomatoes at Orange Market in Mararaba, Nigeria.
Vendors sell fresh tomatoes at Orange Market in Mararaba, Nigeria.Photographer: KC Nwakalor/Bloomberg
Updated on

Africa’s biggest tomato processing plant is barely managing to operate profitably, six years after the factory began production because it can’t get adequate berries to crush.

The 1,200-ton a day plant, owned by Sani Dangote, the immediate younger brother to Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man, is producing at 20% of capacity because farmers don’t have enough resources to boost acreage. The factory was meant to reverse Nigeria’s dependence on imports of tomato paste from China and increase local production. But by 2017, the company had to idle the plant after pests destroyed vast swathes of the crop. It took another two years -- and a resolution of a dispute over payment to farmers -- for the factory to resume output.