Almost two months since government promised quick action on the treatment of tuta absoluta ravaged farms, Nigerians are still waiting but tomato shortfall is being made up with imports from Cameroun and Benin Republic.
The price of tomatoes has reduced considerably from its peak of N35,000 Thousand per basket in April and May 2016, but the staple is still very expensive at about N15 Thousand a basket from N6 thousand in January.
The price of tomato is not coming down because of farmers affected by tuta absoluta have returned to production but rather because government has allowed the importation of fresh tomatoes from Cameroun and The Republic of Benin.
Official figures show that Nigeria’s domestic demand for tomatoes is 2.3 million tonnes, while it produces only 1.8 million tonnes annually. The occurrence of tomato ebola means that Nigeria’s production in 2016 falls far short of this figure.
The disease is still ravaging tomato farms across the country especially in the Northern part of Nigeria.
Despite the importation from the neighboring countries and local production with the aid of greenhouse technology, which accounts for 25 per cent of tomatoes in the market today, the price is still on the high side.
This also shows that the price of the fruit has increased by 400 percent as Nigerians now pay around 200 Naira for the same quantity of tomatoes, which was sold at 50 Naira just a few months ago.
According to a research made by the Agricultural Economics Department of the University of Ibadan, Oyo State Nigeria, tomatoes constitutes 18% of all vegetables consumed by Nigerians.
This simple statistic shows that Nigeria is really doing badly in terms of tomato production. It is worrisome too, that despite its fertile arable land, Nigeria still turns to countries like Cameroon and Benin Republic for fresh tomatoes.
The implication of this is that Nigeria no imports tomato paste from China and India and also imports fresh tomatoes neighbouring countries, threatening government’s projection of self-sufficiency in tomato paste production by the end of the year.