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Residents, food vendors lament high cost of peppers, tomatoes

By Fatima Muraina

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Unstable rainfall,severe heat and widespread infestation of local farms by the ‘Tuta Absoluta’ pest have been attributed to the surge in tomato prices across the country, The Hope has learnt.

Investigation by The Hope revealed that fresh tomatoes and peppers, which are vital cooking condiments in every home and eateries have been out of circulation across the country in the last few months, while the few available sell exorbitantly.

A survey conducted by The Hope at Shasha tomatoes market in Akure showed that a big basket of tomatoes goes for N90,000, while lesser basket goes for N80,000. Small basket at N25,000, while a crate is selling for N45,000.

For pepper, a big bag of Rodo sells for N85,000, Shombo N80,000. A small bag of Rodo now sells for N34,000, and Shombo N32,000.

Speaking in separate interviews with The Hope, stakeholders in the agricultural sector who lamented the development, called for government intervention to address the scarcity of the products through necessary support for farmers.

The Ondo State Secretary of Tomatoes Growers Association, Mr Akin Ogunniyi, said the climatic condition has greatly affected tomatoes production due to unstable rainfall with the attendant severe heat.

Ogunniyi also added that tomato seedlings and chemicals are too expensive, apart from high cost of hiring labourers as well as hike in transportation fares occasioned by fuel subsidy removal.

“Even with irrigation, the cost of buying fuel to power generators to use for irrigation is high”, he stressed.

According to Ogunniyi, there is the need for government at all levels to assist farmers by providing necessary facilities including soft loans/grants to boost production and ensure food sufficiency.

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On the ‘Tuta Absoluta’ pest, Ogunniyi said that has not got to the South West part of the country as it only affects farmers in the North.

He, however, expressed hope that price of tomatoes and peppers will drop when we have stable rainfall, and the products are available in large quantity.

On his part, the Seriki of Shasha Community in Akure,  Alhaji Ibrahim Shehu Abdullahi, attributed the high cost of tomatoes to its seasonal nature as he affirmed that the tomatoes in the market presently were those planted by the South-West farmers which are more costly than those from the Northern part because of their species and availability.

Abdullahi also lamented high cost of fertilizer which now goes as much as about N50,000 per bag and the cost of hiring labourers which is becoming unbearable.

 “The cost of labour which used to be at most N3,000 before but now no labour and the few ones available demand for as much as N6,000,” he said.

He hinted that farmers were not getting the necessary intervention like loans from the Anchor Borrowers programme of the Federal Government, adding that the system had  been politicised such that only the politicians and those in government corner such loans meant for real farmers leaving farmers to suffer.

While suggesting a way out, Seriki advised government to deal directly with the farmers who can be reached through their various local government areas and their respective heads and associations.

The Secretary of Shasha market, Alhaji Aminu Jubril, attributed high cost of tomatoes to lack of interest in farming by the youths.

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The Chairman of the Kaduna State branch of Tomato Growers Association of Nigeria,Mr Rabiu Zuntu, blamed the current surge in tomato prices to the widespread infestation of local farms by the ‘Tuta Absoluta’ pest.

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Residents, food vendors lament high cost of peppers, tomatoes

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