Tomato is one of the main ingredients in cooking in Nigeria. But since the onset of the rainy season, the price has skyrocketed from N6,000 – N8,000 per basket to over N 20,000. good quality tomatoes in large baskets cost up to N30,000 or more.
Many housewives are seriously complaining. Do you blame them.
Nigeria is the 14th largest producer of tomatoes in the world. On the continent, the country is ranked second (after Egypt) with about 1.8 million metric tonnes (mt), which she produces annually.With over 48 million tomato farmers across the country, Nigeria accounts for 65 per cent of tomatoes produced in West Africa.
Ironically, the country is also the largest importer of tomato paste in the world, importing an average of 150, 000 mt of concentrate per annum, which is valued at $170m. Five years ago, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) revealed that Nigeria spent N11.7billion to import 65, 809mt of processed tomato paste.
The CBN attributed the massive tomato import to the dysfunctional agricultural value chain system in the country.The dysfunctional value chain leads to a loss of about 50 per cent of the tomatoes produced in the country because of poor preservation, distribution and marketing systems. The processing industries are also inadequate.
the country’s demand for fresh tomato fruits stood at about 2.45 million mt per annum, while it produces about 1.8 million mt. It also now imports 150, 000mt of concentrate per annum as against the 65, 809mt it did five years ago. Now, of the total fresh tomato fruits produced, 40 to 51 per cent never make it to the market due to post-harvest losses at the peak of production. These losses are put at approximately $15 billion.
From an agricultural perspective, tomato production needs to be taken more seriously if the country is to satisfy local demand and reduce importation.
But it is common knowledge that tomatoes grow and thrive best in warm weather with sunshine that is not too intense, otherwise the crop will wilt during the transplanting stage. As soon as the rainy season starts, tomatoes don’t thrive well and supply cannot meet demand; hence the outcry by housewives.
In some countries, families grow their vegetables in their back gardens. Nigerian consumers should rise up to the occasion and plant the quantities needed for family consumption.