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Consumers of fresh tomatoes are gradually switching to pastes on account of a 100 percent rise in the prices of the produce.
Constant rainfall has reduced the availability of local fresh tomato as the crop does not thrive during the wet season, forcing consumers to buy puree and pastes that are relatively cheaper.
“A basket of tomato I bought last month for N10,000 now goes for N20,000, Mojidat Abuldrasheed, a buyer in Ketu market said.
“I am now switching to tomato paste because I cannot afford spending N700 buying only tomatoes to make stew for my family,” Abuldrasheed said.
Tomato constitutes 18 percent of all vegetables consumed by the Nigerian populace, according to a research by the Agricultural Economics Department of the University of Ibadan.
BusinessDay survey at Mile 12 Market shows that a big basket of fresh tomatoes which went for N10, 000 last month now sells for N20, 000, while a medium-sized basket which went for N7,000 now sells for N14,000.
A basket of fresh pepper has also risen by 100 percent to N12,000, from N6,000 it sold for a month ago. A 50-kg Chilli pepper (sombo) costs N9,000 as against N5,000, while of a basket of scotch bonnet pepper (rodo) costs N13,500 as against N9,000.
Haruna Mohammed, chairman- perishable section, Mile 12 market attributed the sharp rise in prices to seasonality.
“Tomato crop do not do well during the raining season. The price always increases during rainy season as few farmers plant it during that time,” Mohammed said.
“It is a crop that requires less water despite the fact that it is a vegetable. The prices will further increase and would last for the next two months,” he explained.
Nigeria’s inflation rate climbed to 11.37 percent in April from 11.25 percent in March, as food inflation increases, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.
Nigeria is the 13th largest producer of tomato in the world and the second after Egypt in Africa, yet the country is still unable to meet local demand because about 50 percent of tomato produce is wasted due to lack storage facilities, poor handling practice, and poor transportation network across the country.
The situation has resulted in an estimated bill of N16 billion annually for the importation of tomato paste, which makes up for the shortfall in local production.
“Sellers bring in tomato from Ghana, Togo and Benin Republic to sell in Nigeria,” said Abindun Oyelekan, Lagos State president of FADAMA project, and chief executive officer of Farm Fresh Agric Ventures.
According to Oyelekan, countries in the West Africa coast usually complement themselves in the area of vegetables because when there is scarcity of tomato in one country, there is a surplus in others.