Tomato sellers in Ilorin, Kwara, have said that lack of irrigation farming was one of the reasons for the increase in the price of the commodity in the state.
The sellers, who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday at Mandate Market, Ilorin, said that the state also lacked sufficient tomato farmers.
Mr Kunle Adewusi, Auditor-General, Perishable Goods Sellers Association, said that most of the farmers did not have access to water, so they use the manual method of wetting their farms, which was very tedious.
“The local method is tedious because the farmers go to far away streams to get water for their plants.
“They usually start the process of manual labour from March to May before the rainy season begins.
“The little number of farmers that can go through the stress are the ones that will supply the tomatoes to the market.
“So the few supplied will not be enough for the population in Kwara, which is the reason for the high price,” he said.
Mr Abdul-Fatai Oladimeji, another farmer, said that the cost of tomato production was very high, while the price of fertilizer had also increased.
“A 50 kg of NPK fertilizer that was formerly sold for between N3, 500 and N4, 000, is now sold at N7, 500 and the insecticide and fungicide that was N8, 000 a tin, is now N18, 000.
“Also on the irrigation problem in the state, we spend more money on labourers that wet the plants, morning and night,” he said.
Mr Abdul-Awwal Jumaida, a supplier and seller, complained of the stress and pain of planting tomatoes in the state, reason he travels to the north and south-west to get tomatoes.
“I travel to the northern parts of the country from December to June, then from July to December, I travel to Osun, Ekiti, and Oyo, to get tomatoes,” he said.
Jumaida said that traveling to get tomatoes has lots of gain, but with inherent danger.
“Sometimes, our vehicle will develop fault on the way, causing delay for two to three days, which will lead to shortage.
“All this are put into consideration in the cost of tomatoes, so from December to June, the cost of a small basket of tomatoes is between N1,500 to N2, 500 and the big basket is between N18,000 to N25, 000 depending on its availability in the market.
“By August there will be more tomatoes in the market, till the end of rainy season, it will be very cheap, as many farmers will be rushing to sell their product to avoid wastage.
”The bounty season lasts till around November-December when the price of tomatoes will rise again,” he said.
He called on government to assist farmers by providing bore holes to the farms, which would increase production and encourage more youths to engage in farming.