As the plantating season for tomato is coming to an end, farmers in the industry are not finding it easy with harvest of the crop as economic downturn is facing the industry. Thus they solicitfor government’s assistance to solve these challenges
Tomato farmers in the country lament the business challenges facing the industry, urging the government to come to their aids.
Specifically, the farmers decry lack of capital, storage facilities and low margins as key challenges in most areas where the crop is planted in the country.
Nigeria is the world’s largest producer of tomatoes after Egypt but lack of capital, a scarcity of storage facilities and poor pricing are gradually killing agriculture across the country.
In Kura, Kastina State, this year, the harvest has been poor and the market price of tomatoes has crashed.
As farmers reduce their prices to beat their competition, they face slimmer and slimmer margins.
Specifically, tomatoes crop have been a source of revenue generation drive for the country’s economy as about larger metric tonnes of the crop is exported outside the shore of the country.
Farmers have been lamenting government’s insensitivity to their plights which is really affecting tomatoes growers in the country.
Growers and processors of tomatoes all agree that government policies are not favourable to the growth and development of the crop. Among the many challenges is the lack of serious commitment in terms of trade policies and provision of infrastructure.
Factories have been set up across the country only for them to be abandoned or simply gone comatose. Those factories set up by government usually die on arrival for the simple reasons of improperly thought-out business plans, unnecessary political considerations and over-ambitious commitment that cannot, in the long run, be sustained.
This is the case with some like the Manto tomatoes and juice factory in Gombe State and the Ikara tomatoes factory in Kaduna state. In addition to all of these are the ever-present threat of unfair international trade policies and the importation of vegetable.
The local produce, though preferred and easily accessible to a majority of the people, has low shelf life and vulnerable to price fluctuations as a result of seasonal availability.
However, the imported tomatoes have longer shelf life and more attractive to the eyes for its size and colour. Reason: the availability and applicability of technology, which enhances production and quality of produce.
There is also the issue of conducive economic environment, which includes infrastructure like storage facilities, constant power supply and availability of good water flow. All these would sort out the problem of produce waste which occurs during peak season of production, a factor that contributes to unemployment and economic dis-empowerment among farmers.