The president, Tomatoes and Orchard Producers Association of Nigeria, (TOPAN), Mr Oyeleke Bola has called for decentralization of tomato production, as he seeks government intervention.
Bola made the call on Wednesday in an interview with AgroNigeria, where he noted that the sector is yet to attract 5% investment to itself.
He said “We need to decentralize our production and not just limit it to certain regions, the government should check out for other possible regions where tomatoes can do well, this would bring about industrialization, value addition, investors, and business opportunities.
“We might be the largest producer of tomatoes in West Africa, but the fact still remains that the regions in Nigeria where tomato production takes place cannot feed local consumption, we have about 6 states in the north producing tomatoes for the 36 states including the FCT.
Speaking further, he noted that the major problem for farmers is that those industries for processing are far from the farm and so in the cause of transportation, losses are being incurred.
“We are urging the government to focus more on bringing those industries close to the farm, and see how processing can begin from the farm gate. They should do more on logistics, road infrastructures and creating good access to farm lands.
“Our inability to decentralize our production has remained a major limiting factor. Decentralization is the only solution around here. Places like Lagos, Ibadan, south east and south west are were we have more of those processing companies and the cost of transportation from the place of production which is mainly in the north is usually expensive, (the north is mainly where the bulk of the production is done) so by the time these tomatoes are transported from far north to where these processing companies are, you would discover that a lot of losses and shortage will be recorded.
“Decentralizing our production would help reduce losses and also bring tomato production closer to these processing companies that way tomato is being processed almost as at the time it was harvested, this would enable farmers make more profit and also the economy at large can benefit too.
He further encouraged youths and farmers in the south east, south west and all other regions to engage more in tomato production.