BY OWN CORRESPONDENT
ABUJA- Retail tomato prices in Nigeria have skyrocketed threefold from their normal price of a 3kg bucket due to offseason scarcity of the produce.
The Daily Independent reported that shock hike of more than 150 % from January to May 11, 2018, has been attributed to shortfall in supply from major sources, offseason effect and logistics constraints.
Tomatoes constitute 18 per cent of all vegetables consumed by Nigeria’s 170 million populace with the country’s domestic demand for tomatoes put at 2.3 million tonnes while it produces only 1.8 million tons annually, according to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD).
The prices have risen sharply in all the major cities in Africa’s most populous nation.
Tomato is available at N35 000 (previous N10 000) in Ogbeogologo Market, Ose Market in Onitsha the same bucket is selling at N32,000 also from the previous price of N10 000, the same trend continued at Oba Market in Benin City were fresh tomatoes currently going for betweenN30,000 up from N8,500 sold previously.
This development has led to consumers buying canned purees or pastes which are relatively cheaper.
As the problem persists there rumours are also swelling that the real reason for the scarcity is a devastating pest attack which has affected this year’s harvest. A pest known as Tuta absoluta has reportedly affected tomato farms in Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina and Plateau states.
Tuta absoluta, also known by the common name tomato leaf miner or the South American tomato moth has been spreading rapidly across the world from South America, where it was first discovered. It has the ability to destroy a whole tomato farm within 48 hours and is also very difficult to control as it has a high mutation capacity with the ability to develop resistance to insecticides.