Tomatoes farmers in Nigeria are writhing in the pain of about N10 billion in losses as poor market buoyancy and dismally low off-taking channels have driven their harvest to waste.
The Tomato Growers Association of Nigeria (TOGAN) on Tuesday said the activities of tomato paste importers were crippling the patronage of local tomato farmers by off-takers.
Sani Yadakwari, the national general secretary (TOGAN) at a conference tagged: “Save Nigerian Farmers: Customs Partner with Cabals to Keep Tomato Farmers Poor”, said major indigenous tomato processing companies have shut down from the stifling competition of importers who have flooded the market.
“As I am speaking to you, this season alone, our members have lost N10 Billion due to poor market and lack of guaranteed off-takers. The Open market cannot mop all the harvest. Dangote Farms and Savannah Foods, who have off-take arrangements with farmers have remained handicapped, unable to produce and their factories shut down as these packers of triple concentrate in the country rely heavily on importation at the detriment of Nigeria farmers and industries,” Yadakwari said.
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Despite the federal government approved policy to boost the cultivation of fresh tomatoes fit for processing, the association said the Nigeria Customs Service has actively delayed its implementation as a result of an alleged connivance between service and some tomato cabals.
They urged president Muhammadu Buhari to wade into the situation by respecting his commitment to the policy and save farmers further losses.
Yadakwari said: “These Indigenous factories who off-take tomatoes from farmers are shutting down because of lack of buyers, because theses packers would rather import from China and other countries. Therefore, we seek immediate implementation of the tomato policy by all the government agencies concerned, the lunch of an investigation into the Nigeria Customs Service’ reason for flouting government policy and bring them and their partners to justice.”