Tomato scarcity: Expert urges govt to distribute free improved seedlings to farmers

Mr Amadu Oyigbenu, Head of Department, Agricultural Education, College of Education, Akwanga (COEA), Nasarawa State, has urged the Federal Government to tackle the scarcity of tomatoes by distributing improved tomato seedlings to farmers.
Oyigbenu, who made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lafia on Wednesday, said that in doing so, the price of tomatoes would crash.
He said that the scarcity of the commodity has led to 800 per cent increase in price, adding that tomatoes of N50 in the last one month now worth around N700 to N800 today.
He affirmed that the scarcity was due to the outbreak of the pest called ‘Tuta absoluta,’ which had been widely reported to have affected more than 75 per cent of tomato farms in the country.
According to him, the immediate remedy to the scarcity would be for the government to subsidise and make available improved tomato seedlings to farmers to enable them return to their farms.
“Tomato farmers in the country have already suffered a lot due to the outbreak of the pest, so government needs to come to the aid of the farmers.
“The reason most perishable products such as tomatoes, mangoes, among others are not found all through the year in the country is because of the absent of facilities to process and preserve these products,” he said.
He also explained that lack of capital and markets due to insufficient processing industries were some other factors hindering most people from going into commercial production of tomatoes.
“Even those who go into commercial production of tomatoes sell at give away prices at the end of the day, because they do not have cold rooms to preserve these products,” said Oyigbenu.
He then advised the government and other spirited individuals to set up tomato processing industries and encourage dry season farming as the only way to ensure sufficiency in tomato production.
The lecturer also appealed to the government at all levels to ensure timely distribution of fertilisers and other farm inputs to farmers.
Oyigbenu urged government to grant loan facilities to farmers in order to boost production in the country.


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