Christmas, Fuel Scarcity Push Up Tomato Price In Katsina

A new report has showed that the prize for tomatoes skyrocketed within a week occasioned by the Christmas celebrations and fuel scarcity across the country.

The development has made many farmers to harvest the produce semi-ripe for fear of price uncertainty after the Christmas celebration.

A tomato farmer in Danja, Malam Ibrahim Danja, told Daily Trust that the price of the produce was not that high last year due to availability of fuel.

“Last week we sold a big basket of tomato at N1,500 farm price but as the fuel scarcity persists, coupled with the Yuletide celebrations we are now selling it at N5,000. Last year, by now, we were selling the produce at N2,500 to N3,000 at the farms because there was no fuel issue,” said Danja.

He also said that pests were disturbing tomato farms in the area which was affecting the volume of the produce.

“We are battling with tomato worms which destroy the fruits. They have seriously affected the volume of the commodity produced in a farm. But unlike tuta absoluta the pests are fast responding to treatment,” he said.”

A tomato dealer, Alhaji Rabiu Ibrahim, said many markets in the country were starved of the commodity as a result of fuel scarcity.

“We are short of vehicles to transport our goods, many are trapped in fuel queues while the tanker trucks that were attaching our goods are in Lagos waiting to load petroleum products. This hampered the supply of tomato in various markets hence the rise in its price,” said Alhaji Rabiu.

He added that merchants were making money but the situation favoured the farmers more.

“The farmer that sells his produce at the rate of N4,000 to N5,000 right in his farm reaps more profit than a merchant who incurs many risks before selling the commodity,” he said.

Alhaji Rabiu identified Lagos, Owerri, Eleme, Warri and Enugu markets as the main destinations of the tomato merchants.

This reporter observed that the use of tomato crates by the merchants in Danja market has started in earnest when transporting the produce to various destinations.

Malam Umar Dan-Gwari said initially the merchants were very skeptical about using crates until customers in the southern markets endorsed it.

“When it was first introduced we were scared of using it but now we have seen its advantages. It is safer and neater as the produce would not rot easily enroute to markets. Also by using the crates our trucks carry more of the produce than using our conventional big baskets,” said Malam Umar.

He further said that very soon tomato merchants across the north would understand the advantages of using the tomato crates.


Tomatoes, Apples Can Repair Smokers’ Damaged Lungs

Smokers who quit smoking and live on a diet high in tomatoes and fruits, particularly apples, have better chances of restoring their lung functions impaired by smoking, a new study finds.

The study, published in the December issue of the European Respiratory Journal, said former smokers who eat more tomatoes and fresh fruits on a regular basis saw a slower natural decline in lung function over a 10-year period.

The study was conducted by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

According to it, adults who on average ate more than two tomatoes or more than three portions of fresh fruits and vegetables a day had a slower decline in lung function, compared to those who ate less than one tomato or less than one portion of fruits, respectively, on a daily basis.

Lung function starts to decline at around age 30 and poor lung function is linked to higher risks of death from all diseases, including chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, heart disease and lung cancer.

“A diet rich in fruits can slow down the lung’s natural aging process even if you have never smoked,” said Vanessa Garcia-Larsen, the study’s lead author, who is also an assistant professor in the Bloomberg School’s Department of International Health.

Garcia-Larsen and her team examined diet and lung function of more than 650 adults from Germany, Norway and Britain in 2002 and performed lung function tests on the same group of participants 10 years later.

The researchers found a more striking diet-lung-function among former smokers, who had around 80 ml slower decline over the 10-year period because their diets were highly rich in tomatoes and fruits.

Such a result suggests that the nutrients in their diets are beneficial to repairing the lung damage done by smoking.

“Eating more fruits on a regular basis can help attenuate the decline as people age, and might even help repair damage caused by smoking,” Garcia-Larsen said.


NIHORT to Release Drought-resistant Tomatoes to Nigerian Farmers

Dr Olagorite Adetula, the Director of Research and Head of Vegetable and Floriculture Department at the National Horticultural Research Institute (NIHORT), Ibadan, has revealed that the agency will soon make a drought-resistant tomato variety available to farmers in the country.

In an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Adetula said She said that the drought-resistant variety would enable farmers to cultivate tomatoes all year round and eradicate scarcity of the food item during the dry season in the country, thereby boosting all year farming which would help to boost the income of farmers and improve the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Adetula said “The drought-resistant tomato the institute is currently working on can with withstand dry season and bacteria wilt (Ralstonia Solanacerum) and fungi wilt (Fusarium Oxysporium) that usually destroy tomatoes during the dry season.

“ We have tried the drought-resistant tomato variety with some selected farmers in Benue and Plateau states and it yielded very well in that location.

“ But we still have to test this variety in different ecological zones and as well as follow the guidelines in releasing new varieties of seeds in Nigeria before we can release this drought-resistant tomato variety to farmers.

“ As soon as the institute gets fund , we are going to try this variety in Ibadan, Kano, Gombe and Mbato in Imo among others, and then complete the necessary guidelines,’’ she said.

“Most farmers spray chemicals to control disease and research has shown that no chemical can effectively control tomato disease, especially bacteria wilt which affects tomato production.

“ It is therefore necessary to develop an improved variety of tomato with tolerance to bacteria wilt.

“By God’s grace, we have been able to develop a drought-resistant tomato variety which can withstand bacteria wilt’’.

Sonia Foods Seeks Government’s Intervention On Tomato Policy

To stabilise the tomato value chain, the government needs to review its policy on triple concentrate tomato paste importation in a bid to boost the implementation of the backward integration agenda, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Sonia Foods Industries Limited, Nnamdi Nnodebe, has said.

Speaking at a forum to reward its Southwest region distributors in Lagos at the weekend, Nnodebe said the recent increase of import tariff on triple concentrate tomato paste will not motivate packaging companies that are planning or already involved in backward integration exercise.

According to him, the increment, coupled with the imposition of additional levy of $1500 per metric tonne will collapse the tomato packing industry.

His words: “I believe the major problem we are having today, based on triple concentrate, is hinged on output of the farmers. Government needs to support, nurture and train farmers on how to apply chemicals on farm to enable their yield per hectare to increase from six tonnes they are getting today to 40 tonnes that is obtainable outside. That is the only way they can be able to sell cheaper to processors. Why processors today are not getting raw materials is because of high cost of fresh tomatoes. But every day you keep on hearing that tomatoes perishes more, which is not true.

“Government needs to call all of us in the value chain, including packers, processors and farmers for a meeting; hear from us and know
those that are genuine in the industry and support them.”

Speaking on the motivation to rewards its distributors, Nnodebe said, the reward programme has been designed by the company to appreciate its local customers here in Southwest because the company is also going to do the same to other regions, adding that the distributors have been with the company for a very long time, hence the need to show appreciation.

Credit: Guardian