After church service today, I was a hungered (though not after 40 days and night of fasting as Jesus did). The church where I worshipped was close to Shoprite and I chose to eat at the KFC eatery therein.
All was fine at this KFC starting from the warm reception by the security man at the door to the courteous attendant that took my order. The simple order a Zinger Burger Meal was delivered within six (6) minutes. I chose a quiet part of the outlet to enjoy the meal but when I got to eating the fries, I was amazed with the sight that met my eyes – The tomato ketchup were imported. The “Delicio” Premium Tomato Ketchup boldly display that they were made in Oman by AATCO LLC. To add salt to the injury, these ketchup satchels bore no inscriptions that they were NAFDAC certified for consumption in Nigeria.
Just before you start crucifying me of being anti-trade and overtly nationalistic, I did not choose to question the presence of the Indian nationals that were predominantly supervisors of the various KFC franchises in the country. No, after all they risked their capital when all the Nigerian big men with scads of Naira tucked in their wardrobes or Swiss account refused to do do. However, which country will allow its economy to become so porous that it permits others to import Tomato into it when the truth is that there are thousands of Tomato growers in the country. A visit to the Mile 12 market will confirm to any doubting Thomas out there that Nigeria grows and have abundance of a tomato in its farms.
Others may want to argue that the issue here is not the availability of tomatoes but the processing and refining plants to make it available in such forms as are needed by food outlets like KFC. I will agree to the extent that we may just not have such firms noting that throughout my youth and growing up period in this country we have always imported Tomato Ketchup. However, should this not prompt KFC to support such businesses to setup and bridge a gap? Nigerian Content makes good business sense and I believe it is time for KFC to look inwards and take advantage of this unique opportunity of conserving foreign exchange. It will also help it’s image as it creates job opportunities for other folks to make a living out of processing agricultural products.
I have not looked at the source of the oil KFC uses but most likely it may be another story of importation. This is simply sad. We have companies that produce different type of oils – cotton seed, groundnut, soybean etc and patronizing them is key to making KFC. A good corporate brand that will be warmly embraced by all Nigerians.
On the part of government, I think someone needs to sit up and do his/her job well. Whoever is responsible for maintaining the import prohibition list needs to revisit the list and ensure that such widely available farm produce like tomato should be either banned from being imported or attract a very high, punitive, import duty rate. No matter what, as Nigerians, we have a responsibility to protect and grow our industries. Faced with a teeming population in search of employment, what better options do we have than ensure that foreign investors and domestic companies look inwards and make use of our locally available resources?
Ever wondered why we have a high crime rate? Easy, we have a population that crave foreign products which leads to creation of jobs outside our shores while denying our populace opportunities to earn a living. High unemployment fuels crimes since the devil will always find I’ll advised engagements for idle hands.
The issue at hand is more than Tomato. If drastic measures are not taken, we will soon be importing bottled water, and then, what next?