Consumers have decried the high cost tomato in markets in Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and some parts of Nasarawa State.
A News Agency of Nigeria survey on Tuesday in major markets in FCT such as Gosa, Utako, Wuse, Diedie and Garki, Orange, and Masaka, Auta-balefi in Nasarawa State revealed that the price of tomato is out of the reach of the common man.
The high price of tomato being one of the major ingredients in most Nigerian menus has been a source of concern for sellers and consumers, especially housewives.
Also peppers such as “tatase’’, “shombo’’ and “rodo’’ are expensive in the various markets.
Many consumers attributed the scarcity to challenges ranging from flooding to high cost of transportation, the activities of middle men and aging tomato farmers.
Mallam Abdullahi Galadima, a major tomato marketer said the problem had become a yearly occurrence since 2015.
Galadima attributed the scarcity to the inability of tomato producing states of Jigawa, Katsina, Zamfara, Sokoto, Kaduna, Bauchi, Gombe, Taraba and Kano to store the commodity during the dry season.
He noted that the lack of storage facilities made the commodity to be expensive during the rainy season.
“It is usually a yearly occurrence around May to July during the rainy session when tomato is usually scarce because of lack of storage facilities during the dry season when it was cheap.’’
Galadima said that the nine states alone produced over 70 per cent of the tomatoes consumed in the country “and all of them do not have strong storage facility’’.
According to him, many of the tomato farmers are ageing and their children are not willing to embrace farming, especially with the advent of various value chain grains scheme.
In Orange market, a major tomato market in Nasarawa state showed an increase in price of tomato from between 200 and 400 per cent, while the big pepper popularly known as tatase increased by over 200 per cent.
At Utako, Wuse, Diedie and Garki a big basket of tomatoes increased from N5,000 to N18, 000.
Also at these markets, dustbin size basket of tomato is selling for N2, 500, N3, 000, as against N800 and N900 sold before the rains started.
At Gosa market, due to the high cost of tomato, some traders were covering their unripe tomatoes with ashes and some other unidentified substance to make them ripe faster.
A housewife, Mrs Adenike Adewuyi, said that before the scarcity became more serious, some traders were selling with bowls “but these days, they just arranged five to 10 pieces for between N1,000 and N500’’.
“Also tatase is expensive, but it is not as expensive as the traders are presenting it.
“They are only imposing high price because they know that housewives must buy tatase with tomatoes to make their soup tasty and more attractive,’’ she said.
“At Maraba, market a dustbin size of tomato is sold for between N3,000 and N4,000, depending on your bargaining power.
“Ten pieces of tomatoes cost between N300 and N350, while a small bowl of tatase cost N300 as against N50 in April and part of May.’’
A member, Tomato Sellers Association at Orange Market who spoke to NAN on condition of anonymity said Nigerians should have known by now that “this is the usual scarcity season”.
“Most of the affected farmers have abandoned vegetable farming for now because they are yet to recoup their money as majority of them do not have insurance for their farms.
“Majority of the affected farmers took loans from the cooperatives and all their efforts are now geared towards the loan repayments, so this is another contributing factor,’’ he said.
A marketer, Mallam Yusufa Aliko said that insurgency had made it difficult for famers in the North East to produce tomatoes and other ingredients.
He said that most areas affected by the insurgency were only producing little for consumption rather than the high production of distribution across the country.
“The little we are buying now is being produced by the states in the middle belt areas of the country, and this is what would be utilised till the raining season stabilised.
“There is also same problem with pepper and what is cheap now is onion because its storage system is good,’’ he said.
Mrs Biodub Olorungbebe, a food vendor said she had resorted to using dried tomato as alternative to fresh tomato to prepare her dishes to make a little profit in her business.
Edited by Grace Yussuf