Farmers and merchants of tomato in Katsina State are seriously affected by glut of the produce in recent weeks, forcing its price to crash with few buyers in sight.
Although its perishable nature and lack of processing industries usually make tomato farmers experience glut at least once in a year, this year seems to be the worst, according to the farmers.
Hamza Tsalha, a tomato farmer in Mairuwa, Faskari local government area, said the situation is very disturbing as they are recording loses daily in the past three weeks.
“We are really in a sorry state going by what is happening in tomato markets in recent weeks. Many of us have converted the proceeds of our rainy season farming to irrigation and now we lost everything. Our tomato is fresh and healthy this year as we recorded no pest attack but the problem is the glut which makes its price to drop to N300 from N5, 000 per big basket,” said Hamza.
He further attributed the unfortunate situation to the influx of many farmers into tomato farming in the state this year.
“Last year, tomato farmers in this state made a lot of profit, a development that enticed many farmers into irrigation farming this year and God so kind, we are yet to record any pest attack hence our markets are saturated with the produce,” he said.
Similarly, a farmer in Danja LGA, Mal Hamidu Sama’ila, said unless government and the private sector timely intervene with the provision of local tomato processing factories, irrigation farmers will continue to wallow in glut, resulting to dwindling market price of the produce.
“Tomato farming has gradually grown beyond domestic consumption. Government, especially now that it is giving agriculture its deserved priority, should partner with the private sector in the provision of tomato processing factories to contain the volumes of tomato being cultivated yearly,” Mal Hamidu said.
He also expressed strong feelings on how small scale farmers are helplessly losing the resources they put into tomato farming this year; adding that the only favour that government can do for a farmer is to find him an avenue where he can sell his farm produce at reasonable price, especially perishable crops like tomato.
Yakubu Mohammed is a tomato merchant who transports the produce to Onitsha, Anambra State, and he said the situation is also not encouraging in the eastern markets as tomato from every angle of the country is flooding the markets, making its price to fall drastically.
“The glut has also spread to eastern markets, forcing the market demand of the produce to fall flat. Most of the suppliers are either from Katsina, Kano or Kaduna states and they recorded a bumper harvest of the produce this year that superseded its market demand. The best price of a basket of tomato in Onitsha as at last week was N3, 000 if you subtract the cost of transportation, offloading, tax and other dues you will see that the profit is lean if there will be any,” Yakubu Mohammed said.
Daily Trust observed that tomato farmers have since resorted to preserving the produce traditionally by drying it in the sun for future sales.
Large fields in Kokami tomato market are reserved for drying tomato where hundreds of bags are packaged daily.