The Tomatoes and Orchard Producers Association of Nigeria, (TOPAN), has called for decentralisation of tomato production to boost sustainablilty and market growth,considering that only about six states in the north produce tomatoes consumed by a huge chunk of the populace.
Oyeleke Bola, TOPAN president, made the call recently, noting that the sector requires government intervention as Nigeria, despite being the largest producer of tomatoes in West Africa, cannot feed local consumption efficiently and is yet to attract 5 per cent investment to itself.
“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,” he said.
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.
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Bola urged the government to focus more on bringing those industries close to the farm, and see how processing can begin from the farm gate. He also suggested that the government should do more on logistics, road infrastructures and creating good access to farm lands.
According to the TOPAN president, the inability to decentralise tomato production has remained a major limiting factor.
“Decentralization is the only solution around here. Places like Lagos, Ibadan, south east and south west are where 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,” he explained.
Bola expressed optimism that decentralising tomato production would help reduce losses and also bring tomato production closer to processing companies, leading to tomatoes being processed almost as at the time they are harvested. He also noted that this would enable farmers to make more profit and also boost economic growth.
He further encouraged youths and farmers in the south east, south west and all other regions to engage more in tomato production.