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Nigeria has 60% tomato post-harvest loss

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By Mercy Kelani

Sustainable system for production is the use of thick sticks and bamboo.

According to experts, poor cold chain infrastructures and storage facilities have caused a huge losses of 60 percent on tomato post-harvest in Nigeria, making opportunity for investors. The system of unlocking tomato value chain opportunities can only be done through the adoption of greenhouse technology that is made of thick bamboo trees in place of developing automated storage facilities and the regular aluminium panels. Experts also stated that additional solutions exploration of investors on the manufacturing of plastic crates to move fresh produce to the needed area, markets and to invest in minimum moveable processing machine that will grind fresh pepper and tomato into pastes inside the farming house.

The chief executive officer at X-Ray Consulting, African Farmer Mogaji, said that the sustainable system for tomato production is the use of thick sticks and bamboo which is greenhouse in place of aluminium panels that are more costly. He added that due to the hot temperature in the North, the heat from the aluminium for farming of the produce damages them, but the shortcomings can be addressed using greenhouse technology for its cultivation and vegetable’s. For instance, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic are heavy users of sticks and bamboo for greenhouse agriculture to grow their tomatoes all year round.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, Nigeria is the largest consumer of vegetables.

African Farmer Mogaji stated that farmers that are still using aluminium are at suffering from huge losses as the majority of greenhouses have either been underutilized or abandoned. He said that parastatals and associations under the ministry of agriculture need to be more proactive in building chemicals or solutions to resolve the predominant Tuta Absoluta, also known as Tomato Ebola. Small modular processing plants are also needed around the places near farming areas. Nigeria is populated with over 213 million people and is the biggest economy in Africa as it is a big manufacturing market for food.

Tomato is commonly eaten and used as stews, soups and others in the country. The vegetable crop is high in lycopene, a plant compound used to protect against sunburns, cancer and enhance heart health, which is the valuable part of a good health diet. Based on PwC report, in Sub-Saharan Africa, Nigeria is the largest consumer of vegetables over 20kg per capita while the consumption of tomatoes in 2016 was about 12kg per capita. In addition, Nigeria was ranked as the 13th largest tomato producer worldwide.

Demand for the produce in Nigeria is at 2.2 million MT yearly.

Africa’s giant also ranks the second position in Africa after Egypt, but local demands are not met due to the loss of 60 percent of tomato products as a result of poor transportation network across the country, poor handling practice and lack of storage facilities. Nigeria produces 1.5 million metric tonnes (MT) of the vegetables per annum according to this official data from the agricultural ministry with 0.7 million MT lost post-harvest. The demand for the produce in Nigeria is at 2.2 million MT yearly, leaving a distance of 1.4 million MT.

Also, the Food and Agriculture Organisation shows the data that Nigeria’s average yield tomato crop per hectare, 4.2MT, is at the lowest stage compared to Egypt (41.6MT), Ethiopia (60.2MT), South Africa (70.8MT) and Kenya (23.7MT). The founder and chief executive officer at Easysauces Nigeria Limited, Jide Adedeji stated that the situation of post-harvest losses need to be addressed because of it impact on availability of commercial tomatoes. Recently, the fall and rise of the prices of the crop has been caused by the outbreak of Tomato Ebola in union with the yearly raining season. Practically, the price of tomato mostly falls around these months, between September and February.

High cost of maintaining trucks and fuel has inflated food prices.

Nevertheless, around April-July is usually regarded as the off-season period because of raining season that does not support the growing of tomatoes and this usually makes the price become inflated. The price of a tomato big basket stands between N90,000 and N100,000 at a BusinessDay survey at Mile 12 Market, Lagos. This price depends on proper negotiation which is in contrast to the price in January, N9,500. The price hiked by 847 percent within six months as the average fresh tomatoes sold through retail between N40,000 and N50,000 in Lagos markets. The operations manager of Aquashoots Limited, Abiodun Olorundenro stated that high cost of maintaining trucks and fuel has gone up on moving food products from the North to the South.

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