05 30, 2024

Prices of tomatoes in the country have increased by 200 percent in Lagos owing to the recent outbreak of Tuta Absoluta in some farmlands in Kaduna and Kano – major growing states for the fresh fruit and the onset of the raining season, BusinessDay findings show.

Also, the price surge is owing to seasonality as the tomato crop does not do well during the raining season, and prices are always expected to surge during the period, according to experts.

A big basket of fresh tomatoes in Mile 12 Market, Lagos sells between N100,000 and N120,000 depending on negotiation as against N40,000 and N50,000 sold in April and early May, according to a BusinessDay market survey.

Sani Danladi, national chairman of the Association of Tomato Growers, Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria, said the high cost of tomatoes in the country is hinged on the invasion of the Tuta Absoluta pest on farmlands in major growing states.

Danladi noted that the country has failed to tackle the recurring pest infestation that has led to losses for farmers already contending several issues. He added that due to the commencement of the rainy season, the crop does not do well during the rainy season.

Tuta Absoluta has a reputation for swiftly ravaging tomato cultivation in a little above 48 hours – prompting farmers to nickname it Tomato Ebola. It can breed between 10-12 generations in a year with the female capable of laying between 250 to 300 eggs within its lifetime.

Nigeria is the 13th largest producer of tomatoes 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 a lack of storage facilities, poor handling practice, and poor transportation network across the country.

Tasiu Haruna, a local tomato farmer in Kaduna told BusinessDay that climate change was a major challenge affecting production of the crop in the north.