Tomatoes, Onions prices jump

As the rainy season intensifies, the prices of tomatoes and onions across the states have started to increase.

Tomato and onion production in the country is mostly rain-fed, with most smallholder farmers that dominate the space not having the technology needed for large-scale wet season production.

The country’s annual production is about 1.8 million metric tons, which falls short of the 2.4 million metric tons of domestic demand per year.

The gap is filled by huge imports of pastes from China, Italy and other countries, amounting to N13 billion annually, according to figures from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

There are very few medium-scale commercial farmers using greenhouse technology to produce and some private companies have also set up tomato processing plants, but they are yet to make any real impact.

During the rainy season, smallholder farmers don’t have control of the rain, unlike the dry season under irrigation when they are able to control the amount of water intake into their tomato farms.

Rainfall has a devastating effect on tomato farms, resulting in low output, which makes the price hit the roof.

From April, farmers in many producing states begin to experience tomato damage on their farms. This leads to its acute scarcity within the span of three or four months when consumers resort to the use of dried tomato and tomato pastes.

In Abuja and neighbouring Nasarawa and Niger states, the prices of onions and tomatoes have risen by more than 50 per cent, with a big basket of tomatoes, which sold at between N8,000 and N9,000 early last month, going up to N19,000 for the UTC varieties which mostly come from Jos.

Onions too have witnessed a rise in price as a bag sells above N20,000.

Some of the dealers in Abuja attributed the rise in prices to two things: a drop in production and the cost of transportation, which in the past few months has been high.

In Kano State, our correspondent reports that the price of tomatoes has skyrocketed in the last few weeks, as well as onions.

A visit to Yan Kaba vegetable market showed that a basket of tomatoes which was sold for N9,000 to N10,000 a couple of weeks ago is now N15,500 to N17,500.

Similarly, a big bag of onion which sold for N18,000 to N20,000 is now N30,000 to N35,000 while the smaller bag which sold for N7,000 to N8,000 is now N12,000 to N12,500.

However, Kano State chairman of Tomato Growers Association of Nigeria (TOGAN), Alhaji Sani Danladi Yadakwari, has attributed the hike in the price of tomatoes to the unexpected rainfall recorded a few weeks ago.

According to him, the rain washed away large tomato plantations in Katsina, Kaduna and some parts of Zaria.

He said already, the tomato peak period is over in Kano.

Yadakwari added that the commodity would continue to be scarce and expensive until the harvest of the pre-wet season tomato.

He urged the authorities to, as a matter of urgency, come to the aid of the affected farmers to enable them go back to their farms to start production to arrest the scarcity.

Similarly, an onion merchant at Gun Dutse onion market said the hike in onion price is because the harvest period is over and the onions presently in the market are those that were stored by merchants.

According to him, onion farmers are currently preparing their farms for the wet season and it is the merchants that are presently in control of the market and as such a hike in price is inevitable.

A check by our correspondent in Jos, the Plateau State capital, revealed that there has been a rise in the prices of onions and tomatoes for some weeks now in the state.

A vegetable seller at Tomato Market, by the Cele Bridge in Jos, Rachael Stephen, confirmed the rise in price to our correspondent.

She said a big bag/sack of onions now sells for between N15,000 and N18,000, unlike two months ago when it was sold for between N10,000 and N12,000.

She said a small paint rubber is now sold for between N700 and N800, adding that when a basket was sold for N10,000 to N12,000, the small paint rubber was sold at between N400 and N600.

On the price of tomatoes, she said the medium basket is now sold at N5,500 to N7.000 unlike in the past two weeks when it was sold at between N1,500 and N2,300.

Madam Stephen noted that the rise in the price of onions was gradual until it got to the present state.

Daily Trust