Home Business Agric Tomatoes price shoots from N20,000 to N70,000 per basket

Tomatoes price shoots from N20,000 to N70,000 per basket

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From less than N20,000 for a basket in recent weeks, fresh tomatoes now sell for N70,000 in major cities in southern Nigeria particularly.

This has made many households and restaurants to resort to tomato pastes and other available alternatives for their cooking.

A market survey conducted by Daily Trust showed that, in states where tomatoes are cultivated, including Kano, Katsina and Benue states, the price of the commodity has risen from between N17,000 and N20,000 a basket to N40,000 and N45,000.

However, in Kwara, Oyo, Rivers, Lagos and Enugu States, and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, the price has risen to as high as N70,000, pushing many households and restaurants to the edge. The size of the baskets is about the same across most of the markets.

While farmers are attributing the surge to high production costs, pest attacks and off-season scarcity, agricultural experts are instead calling for extensive research that will lead to the availability of water-resistant seeds to enable farmers to plant all year round, including during the rainy season.

For many households, the current price of tomatoes is beyond their reach, while for restaurants, it is eating into their profits. They said they are now forced to resort to tomato paste, which price is also going up.

Mrs Azzez Kikelomo, who owns a restaurant in Abuja, said the hike in the price of tomatoes has led to an increase in the price of food per plate at the restaurant.

She said a basket of tomatoes, which she used to buy for N17,000 or N18,000 a few weeks ago at Dei-dei market, has now gone up to N48,000 and costs even more at the Karmo Tuesday market as well as Bwari market.

“I’m even confused now because how much tomato paste can I use in my restaurant? We just have to buy tomatoes, no matter the price. And if the produce is too costly, you know the implication; we are going to transfer the cost to the customers, who will now pay more per plate. We also reduce the amount of soup we give to customers”, she said.

A report from Kwara State also showed how farmers and residents are lamenting the rise in the price of tomatoes since last week. Farmers and marketers in the state also attributed the current price hike to pest attacks on tomato farms, the cost of production, and transportation.

A big basket of the produce, which was sold for about N20,000 a few months ago, is now sold for between N57,000 and N58,000.

While some residents have since devised other means to cushion the effect on households and families, others are calling on the government to put in place programmes and policies that will reduce the cost of production.

Another trader, Mrs Lateeah Abdullahi said that various methods have been adopted in response to the situation.

“Some of us now dry the tomatoes when they’re surplus and soak them in water before using them during scarcity. Sometimes, we cook it after grinding it until it becomes a thick paste which we then pour into bottles.

“This process can survive without electricity for a considerable length of time. The only thing is that it loses its fresh taste. We also switch to canned tomatoes as a buffer.

“With this, I can use around N200-N300 to prepare a meal for a family of five, like mine, instead of N500 or more for normal tomatoes, which we even still had to manage”, he noted.

Kwara State chairman of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria, Umar Mahmud Aboki said: “Increase in the price of production has affected the price of tomatoes.

“The high cost of production and inflation are major factors as prices of farm chemicals and fertilisers have tripled.

“Before, on our farms, we employed labourers and bought motorcycles for them for around N280,000. Now that has gone up to N500,000″, Aboki said.

In Kano, one of the producing states, the price of tomatoes has skyrocketed with an over 100 per cent increase. The situation, which came at a time when tomatoes were scarce on the farm, has left households, restaurants, and other users resorting to several alternatives that they say are not as tasty as fresh tomatoes.

The situation is also forcing women to resort to dried tomatoes and tomato paste.

“We are now buying the sachet tomato, and even that one is costly. A sachet of tomato paste that was sold at N70 is now N120. Even the dried one is also costly”, a housewife, Hajara Abdullahi, has said.

An agricultural expert, Mr Toyin Alonge has called for thorough research on water-resistant tomato seeds that would enable farmers to plant during the rainy season.

Without this, he said, the crisis would continue annually, as past experiences have shown that seasonal production of the produce has been the major cause of the hike around this time.

He said it was also the absence of water-resistant seeds that has been making it difficult for tomatoes to do well in the southern parts of the country, making the entire country rely mostly on supply from the North, adding that whenever anything happens to production in the North, the entire country will be in trouble.

Alonge, who is a crop scientist, also called for more research on tomato seeds that can resist pest attacks, especially the destructive Tuta absoluta. He also suggested massive investment in irrigation facilities to enable massive dry season production of the product as well as storage facilities.

An official of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said research efforts are on, in collaboration with an international organisation, to find a final solution to the Tuta absoluta pest.

He assured farmers that the government had concluded a plan to pay more attention to the development of irrigation facilities to enable all-year-round farming of various agricultural commodities.

Source: Daily Trust

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