Tomatoes: Nigeria Suffers $15bn Post-Harvest Losses
The continued inadequacy in storage, processing facilities and wastage in tomatoes value chain, cost Nigeria about $15 billion post-harvest losses annually.
Nigeria is Africa’s second largest producer of tomatoes with nearly 2 million tonnes annually, yet up to 40 per cent of the crop never makes it to market, impacting food security and smallholder farmers’ incomes.
However, stakeholders who spoke at the 2017 Agra innovate West Africa in Lagos, said challenges affecting tomato value chain need a holistic effort to address post harvest losses in the country.
Despite government placing a 50 per cent import duty on tomato paste, 96 per cent of tomato imported into Nigerian market are said to be substandard and not good for consumption.
The policy, which took effect in May this year has been very slow to create any effect on the sector as no tomato paste industry is currently in operation in Nigeria and imported pastes are still finding their way into the Nigerian market.
Speaking on the government policy, Managing Director, Dangote Tomato Processing Factory, Abdulkarim Kaita, said that government has not been sincere with its policies, as its policy was the main reason the country is yet to revive its moribund textile industry.
According to him, Nigeria has the potential to grow 6000 tons of fresh tomatoes yearly but is yet to capitalise on the potential due to the inability of the government to effectively implement policies that would drive investments and serve as incentive for farmers to grow more.
He added: “For now the impact of the tomato paste policy is not yet being felt, we are still watching and we hope by next year when the importers have exhausted all they have imported before the policy was enacted, we would begin to see the impact.
“We as an indigenous processor have processed fresh tomatoes into concentrates since April hoping that importers would start buying locally but this is yet to happen. There is still no market for it and we have a lot in stock. It is one thing to put a policy in place and it is another thing to ensure it is fully implemented. A lot of importers anticipated the tomato paste policy and filled their warehouse with imported concentrates before the policy even commenced,” Kaita said.
While addressing newsmen, on the side-line of the event, the Vice President, Nigeria Agricultural Business Group (NABG) Emmanuel Ijewere, said that the policy has been slow to have a real impact because of the resistance of the importers who are bent on frustrating it.