Stakeholders in the agricultural sector have expressed their view over the increasing menace of post-harvest loss in the tomato value-chain, a development that is capable of jeopardizing government policies on food security.
This was announced at a policy view roundtable discussion in Kano, convened by TechnoServe, an international nonprofit organization that promotes business solutions to poverty in the developing world by linking people to information, capital and markets.
The experts expressed their worry over policy somersault and low budgetary allocation to agriculture in the ‘tomato triangle’ region in five pilot states of Kaduna, Katsina, Kano, Jigawa and Plateau; where post-harvest loss in tomato and its effects were evaluated.
Approximately 200,000 Nigerian farmers grow about 1.8 million metric tons of tomatoes per year on about 170,000 hectares, falling short of domestic market demand of 2.3 million with the gap of 500,000 MT being filled by imports.
Mr. Olorunfemi Toyin, the project manager at Yieldwise Nigeria, stated that the annual post-harvest loss, which accounted for over 40 per cent of total local production remains a critical concern despite the comparative advantage of Nigeria in tomato production.
He narrated factors responsible for huge post-harvest lost such as poor productivity of farmers, lack of storage facilities, the natural challenges of draught caused by climate change and flooding.
Managing director JMSF agribusiness, Richard Ogundele, who conducted an assessment of the opportunities and challenges of tomatoes production in the five states, posited that post-harvest loss would remain a problem until the government focuses more on improved technologies and budgetary allocation.
Earlier in her remarks, the Deputy Country Director of Technoserve Nigeria, Ayokanmi Ayuba explained that the post-harvest loss reduction in the tomato value-chain was part of a sustainable agriculture mandate to improve the livelihoods of smallholders tomato farmers in Nigeria.