Coordinator encourages farmers to plant tomatoes, says can be grown under controlled weather
The tomato crisis in the country had been receiving attention as experts and farmers proffer solution on how best to produce the crop and how to preseve it.
Mr Gideon Dandam, the Fadama III Coordinator in Plateau, who attributed the present scarcity of the food item and its price hike to low cultivation of the crop by farmers, stressed the need to boost its production.
Dandam told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Jos that the demand for the crop was very high, while supply remained low, thereby causing scarcity and hike in price.
According to him, most farmers in the state prefer to cultivate maize, millet, potatoes, yams and other crops instead of perishable crops like tomatoes during the rainy season.
``One major cause of scarcity of tomato during rainy season is because there is always high level of water beneath the earth which adversely affects the production of the crop.
``But the major cause of this year's astronomical and unprecedented scarcity is because only few farmers are involved in tomato cultivation during the wet season.
``Most of our farmers prefer to cultivate crops like yams, maize, potatoes and other crops during the rains, thereby causing unavailability of the crop in such period.
``Also, we now have tomato processing plants in Nigeria, and so the product is always mopped up from points of harvest for processing.
He, however, said that the crop could be grown in both dry and wet season, depending on the nature of the farming system a farmer adopts.
He said that ``despite these challenges, it is good to note that tomato can still be grown under a controlled weather, either in the open or the green house arrangement.
``'The green house arrangement is best for raining season, because it minimises the strength of rainfall on the ground, and the possible infestation of pest that may affect the crop,'' he explained.
Dandam assured that the present scarcity of the product in the state would soon be a thing of the past, as Fadama III AF has empowered more than 1,000 farmers to solely produce cultivate tomato this wet season.
NAN reports that the price of tomatoes skyrocketed by 1,000 per cent in Jos and environs as a small basket of the commodity which was sold at N350 two months ago was now sold at N3,500 at the Terminus Market in Jos.
The story was the same at the Tudun Wada Market in Jos North Local Government, where a medium basket of the commodity sold for N550 in March was now sold at N5,600.
Apart from controlled weather, improved seeds would also boost tomato yield as the Jigawa Government had pledged to provide such seeds to farmers for planting during dry season.
Alhaji Hassan Idris, the Managing Director, Jigawa Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (JARDA) told NAN in Dutse that ``the current tomato scarcity and hike in price is a matter of season; there is off season when tomatoes are scarce in the market, thereby causing price hike.
``We are planning to introduce improved seeds which can be grown during dry season and I am sure this measure will reduce scarcity during times like this.’’
According to him, the government is also looking at the possibility of adopting the "Green House" system to grow the commodity.
``There is also the Green House system where tomatoes can be grown in a closed place by providing the needed weather for its growth.
``Facilities will be provided to give the tomatoes the weather it needs to grow.’’
He however said that the Green House approach was capital intensive, pointing out that large-scale farmers would have to be involved.