Home » Tomato Crisis in Nigeria: How a Pest and Rainy Season Pushed Prices to Record Highs

Tomato Crisis in Nigeria: How a Pest and Rainy Season Pushed Prices to Record Highs

A report on how a pest outbreak and rainy season have pushed tomato prices in Nigeria to record highs, affecting food security and livelihoods.

by Motoni Olodun

Nigerians are feeling the pinch of soaring tomato prices, as a combination of factors has made the staple food item unaffordable for many households. According to a report by BusinessDay, a big basket of tomatoes is sold for between N36,000 and N38,000 in Mile 12 Market, Lagos, as against N10,000 in April this year. The price of a medium-sized basket of tomatoes has risen to N19,000-N23,000 from around N4,500 in April.

The main reasons for the price hike are the outbreak of Tuta absoluta, a tomato pest that can destroy up to 100% of the crop, and the rainy season, unfavorable for tomato cultivation. Tuta absoluta, also known as tomato leaf miner, invaded farms in major tomato-producing states such as Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, and Gombe in May this year, causing massive losses for farmers and reducing the supply of fresh tomatoes. The pest is native to South America and was first detected in Nigeria in 2016. It has since spread to other African countries such as Ghana, Kenya, and Ethiopia.

The rainy season, which lasts from May to September, also affects the quality and quantity of tomatoes, as excess water can damage the plants and cause diseases. Moreover, the rain makes it difficult to transport tomatoes from rural areas to urban markets, leading to higher transportation costs and post-harvest losses. As a result, some traders have resorted to importing tomatoes from neighboring countries such as Cameroon and Niger to meet the demand.

Tomatoes are an essential ingredient in Nigerian cuisine, used for making soups, stews, sauces, and salads. They are also rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that benefit health. However, with the current prices, many consumers are finding it hard to afford tomatoes or have to reduce their consumption. Some food vendors have also switched to using tomato paste or rotten tomatoes to cut costs.

The tomato crisis has implications for food security, nutrition, and income generation in Nigeria, where about 40% of the population lives below the poverty line. According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the headline inflation rate increased to 26.72% in September 2023, with the food inflation rate at 30.64%. The high cost of living has also triggered social unrest and protests in some parts of the country.

The government and other stakeholders have been urged to take urgent measures to address the tomato crisis and prevent further escalation. Some suggested solutions include providing farmers with improved seeds, pesticides, and extension services, promoting greenhouse farming and irrigation systems; enhancing storage and processing facilities; enforcing quality standards and regulations; and creating awareness and education on pest management and food safety.

Despite the challenges, some experts are optimistic that the tomato situation will improve in the coming months as the dry season approaches and more local production resumes. They also hope the crisis will serve as a wake-up call for Nigeria to invest more in its agricultural sector and reduce import dependence.

Source: BusinessDay

You may also like

logo white

Born from an unwavering commitment to the nation’s progress, we stand as an emblem of independent journalism dedicated to serving the interests of progressive Nigerians from every corner of our diverse and vibrant country.

© 2024 The Nigerian Patriot. All Rights Reserved.

Social Media Auto Publish Powered By : XYZScripts.com