Vegetables are a good source of vitamins and minerals and micronutrients. Vegetable consumption is on the increase in Nigeria; thanks to doctors and nutritionist who encourage us all to increase our consumption of fruits and vegetables. The common vegetables in Nigeria include tomatoes, onions, pepper, cabbage, carrots, spinach, and so many more.
In the villages and rural areas, vegetables form a large part of the diet. In the rural areas, nearly every homestead has a vegetable bed very bear the house. All they need to do is to just walk into the farm and pick the desired quantity to cook a particular variety of soup. Vegetables are eaten fresh in the rural areas. Any time I visit some markets in Lagos metropolis, the vegetables look lifeless. The sellers would sprinkle cold water on the vegetables in order to bring life into them.
A big time caterer made me understand that the best time to buy vegetables is between 5:00 and 6am in the morning at some big markets in Lagos especially Mushin market; reason being that those bringing the vegetables from the hinterland, like Abeokuta, Ota etc travel overnight to Lagos. Lagos buyers usually arrive the markets by 4am awaiting the arrival of the villagers. This is very interesting indeed as it is a nocturnal/early morning market. The vegetables are sold in “bundles” or “baskets” to wholesalers who in turn resell to retailers down the line. By the time those of in corporate jobs go to the market on weekends to shop for food stuffs, what we get are 2-3 day old vegetables that are also expensive. A bundle of the popular spinach would have been subdivided into 10 smaller bundles and there is nothing you can do.
The bulk of the onions, tomatoes, cabbage, carrot and peppers consumed in Lagos are from the Northern part of the country. Tomatoes, pepper, onions, cabbage, carrot are produced in virtually all the northern states of the country. But unfortunately, over 40% of the production is wasted due to poor preservation methods and no processing facilities. Post harvest losses are the bane of vegetable production in Nigeria. For example, tomatoes can be processed into tomato puree, paste, plums etc if the processing industries are available.
Furthermore, vegetable production is a lucrative business in view of the fact that some varieties can be produced two/three times a year under irrigation/fadama farming. There is however light at the end of the dark tunnel.