Currently, Nigerians are again struggling with the high cost of tomatoes in many parts of the country. Sources say the price of a basket of tomatoes in the producing states like Kano, Katsina, and Benue has risen from between N17,000 and N20,000 to about N40,000 and N45,000. But in some states like Kwara, Oyo, Rivers, Lagos, and Enugu, the price has gone up to highs of N70,000 per basket.
Growers and traders attributed the hike in the price to the recent pest attack in some farms across many tomato-producing states. A large number of tomato farms have reportedly been destroyed by Tuta absoluta, a pest that can destroy a tomato farm in a few hours.
The Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer of the National Horticultural Research Institute (NIHORT), Dr. Ephraim Nwanguma, said: “Nigeria is the 14th largest producer of tomatoes in the world, second in Africa, and accounts for about 65 percent of all tomatoes produced in West Africa. Despite the aforementioned potential of tomatoes, Nigeria imports an average of 150,000 tons of tomato paste concentrate annually, valued at about $170 million. Thus, the country is the 13th largest importer of tomato paste in the world and third largest importer in Africa.”
Agricultural experts said the current problem stemmed from the failure to develop water-resistance tomato seeds, which would enable farmers to plant during the rainy season. They claim that the government must take immediate steps to assist farmers affected by the pest attack to enable them to recoup their losses and get back to their farms.
[ N100 = €0.20 ]