The Federal Government has been urged to formulate a robust tomato policy to increase domestic production. This, when put in place, will enable participants benefit maximally from the over N120 billion tomato paste market and discourage smuggling.
A senior official of the Federal Ministry of Finance (FMoF), who craved for anonymity, said this, noting that the 2017 tomato policy announced by the government failed to yield the expected result. He further submitted that there is also need to increase tariffs on tomato concentrate so that the country can benefit maximally so as to encourage local participation.
A member of Tomato Union of Nigeria (TUN), Mr Kabiru Danladi said, there was the need to encourage the farmers so that the tomato industries would get the required feed stock from farmers, and prevent them from switching to other crops.
“The reason why the Federal and state governments need to support the farmers adequately is because our country has the lowest tomato yields in the world at 5.47 tonnes/harvested area, compared to the global average of 38.1 tonnes/ harvested area. It is common knowledge that most of the tomatoes in Nigeria are grown in the North and transported via road to the South where the market is. The tomatoes are gathered in baskets mounted on each other and packed into trailers like sardines. It is no wonder that almost half are destroyed before they get to the market,” he said.
A business development strategist and a farmer, Mr Sunday Agboluaje, agreed that there is need to strengthen the country’s tomato industry, through partnership in a bid to realise its potential.
In Nigeria, Agbaluaje said, 40 to 50 per cent of tomato fruits produced never make it to the market due to post harvest losses. The value of the wasted tomatoes, he said, is over N50 billion.