The country is beginning to edge out of the recent tomato scarcity attributed to a virus called ‘Tomato Ebola’, a specie of moth with the ability to wipe out tomato farms within days. The lack of expertise and quick intervention were reasons for its spread and scale of destruction. The virus also infects pepper plants and other crops. The devastating effects of the virus on tomatoes also compelled Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man, to suspend production at his recently built tomato processing plant in Kano state.
On the development, Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh, in May, 2016, said: “We waited this long to address the problem because we wanted to consult with experts to understand and proffer solutions to the problem. Now, these experts who have been called in to appraise the situation, will set to work on methods that have worked in other countries on affected sites as soon as tomorrow and in the next few days, we will start treating affected sites, so as to stop the infestation and tomatoes can once again become available in the country.”
In holding the Minister of Agriculture to his word, GRANDSCOPE Media visited a couple of markets in Lagos to ascertain the current prices of tomatoes and we can authoritatively say now that prices of Tomatoes have dropped drastically as against what we had in the past 2 – 3 months, in which prices shot up by 105 percent. Four pieces of tomatoes sold then for between N200 or N300 and a basket of tomatoes spanned between N30, 000 and N40, 000 from its normal price of N17, 000 per basket, forcing homes to adopt alternative recipes like tomato paste instead of fresh ones. However, in recent days, an average bowl of tomatoes now sells for between N150 – N200, even with some ‘jara’ or ‘fisi’ (extras), if the buyer so requests. Baskets of tomatoes are also almost returning to their normal prices across the state.
Since many homes and wives have already embraced tomato paste as an alternative for their stew and soup, (and even carrots, as we learnt), the supply of tomatoes to the state now seems to greatly surpass the demand for it. This is largely due to a dearth of information on the current prices of tomatoes. Hence, some tomato sellers, especially the‘abokis,’ are willing to spare some ‘jaras’ after a purchase to encourage more patronage by the public.
So, please go out to the market and buy tomatoes. It is now cheap o!
– By Olutayo Faloye.