Africa’s Gigantic low export and production of Legendary Tomatoes: Then who’s to be held responsible?
Nigeria, the most influential country in Africa, has been dubbed the “African Giant.” Nigerians are, to put it mildly, obsessed with tomatoes. When you eat them, you get a wholesome feeling in your mouth; it’s difficult to find a home that doesn’t use tomatoes for cooking. It is commonly used for party jollof, salads, raw eating, stew, and other dishes. Many people, including vegetarians and non-vegetarians, buy tomatoes because they are high in vitamin D. Nigeria is estimated to be one of the largest tomato consumers in Sub-Saharan Africa. Currently, the African gigantic is facing economic crises that most would agree are the direct result of agricultural carelessness, and some would even go so far as to say that this neglect is also to blame for the country’s growing social ills. Crop production still necessitates values such as care, love, and patience, which appear to be lacking in ‘s era (Elamah, 2017). Nigeria has the capacity to grow and export processed tomatoes; it is currently the second largest producer of tomatoes in Africa and the 14th largest in the world, but only a handful of tomato processing plants in the country have begun production(Arise News, 2020). (Channels Television, 2021) It is currently, producing approximately 3.82 million metric tons annually, accounting for approximately 2.11 percent of total global production. However, Nigeria exports only about 450 metric tons of tomatoes each year, and only a handful of tomato processing plants in the country have begun production.
How Is This Even a New normal?
The low production and export of tomatoes in Nigeria is due to the fact that tomatoes are mostly grown in the Northern part of the country, making the North the general basin of agriculture, with small scale farmers accounting for 90 percent of tomato production. This farmer produces a lot on their own, and the majority of it is eaten in the southern part, so there is a logistical problem; they see it as culinary repertoire, even though they are clue substitutes, they still go towards tomatoes, especially during the Christmas and Easter session, when there is a high demand for tomatoes, which tends to push up the price of tomatoes; there is a Clustering problem in terms of getting these products to market (Channels Television, 2021).
An even worse factor is distance, because farmlands are located in inaccessible locations, and for small – scale farmers, it is probably cheaper to let the tomato go to waste rather than bring it to market, and there are no intermediaries who can efficiently pull these products together and efficiently bring them to market (Channels Television, 2021).
Already, because tomatoes are perishable goods, they are difficult to store and handle, and many of them are damaged along the supply chain due to small-scale businesses lacking adequate storage, packaging, and processing equipment. For the tomatoes that survive despite all odds, many are damaged in transit and some become infected with diseases (Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition) (GAIN, 2020).
Again, Laws in all branches of government have exacerbated the situation by being weak, inconsistently applied, found to be ineffective, and frequently contradictory. Aside from that, oil, gas, and related products dominate the country’s exports, attempting to divert attention away from agriculture. As a result, until recently, the public and private sectors, democratic institutions, and domestic and multilateral organizations all failed to invest in agriculture.
Moreover ,not a lot of firms have the financial, technical capacity to pull up(Channels Television, 2021).The Dangote factory has come to represent the sector’s failure because the processing plant, which is located in Kadawa, Kano state, and has a daily capacity of 1200 tonnes of tomatoes and an annual capacity of 400 000 tonnes, was intended to replace Chinese paste imports(Africa: the difficult match between agriculture and industry – Tomato News, 2020).In March 2016, the group opened the largest tomato processing plant on the African continent, which reportedly cost around USD 20 million to build and two months after its opening, the factory was forced to halt operations due to supply disruptions caused by Tuta absoluta’s destruction of a large portion of the crops and the reopening of the facilities, which was scheduled for February 2017, was pushed back to March 2019 however, the recovery was short-lived, as activity was suspended again in September due to a lack of adequate raw material volumes after which the plant hasn’t been used with over 20% of its total capacity(Africa: the difficult match between agriculture and industry – Tomato News, 2020).
Because there is a set price that you know you will get when you find tomatoes everywhere else in the world, the processors and farmers must enter into contracts together, and the system must be consistent.
Foremost, logistics is not seen as a challenge because if you want to grow tomatoes in the open field, which is not a greenhouse method, you will need to have what we call try season so the humidity level in some western parts of Nigerian like Lagos and Ogun state that have become hubs for produce feeding into the community those are not great environment because they sell to someone who wants to eat tomatoes, or make salad or fruit juice that’s small scale for large scale open field tomato farming where we can consider tomatoes for processing and exporting the North remains a better option.
Funds should be invested across the board, with no prioritization. They should be investing in farms, farmers, and value-adds such as tractors, which should be kept in place to support all farm activities.
Lack of financial and technical capacity to pull up remains a problem for firms in this region. The government should build infrastructure first, then step back and let experts do their jobs without interfering.
Storage has been a solid investment towards improving tomato standards over time, the government should reduce or eliminate the need for outside storage, the country sends so much on silos and other storage facilities outside the country, putting the business at risk because tomatoes are perishable goods and thus difficult to maintain or handle a total of 660 to 70 percent gets wasted and damaged at post-harvest stage, the surviving ones at the process of transiting gets infected or damaged too we should not be reliant on outside storage mechanism because the more we control tomato the lower the risk storage facilities should be maintained
Best way possible
A CALL TO ACTION
I conclude that there are no competing interests in this survey, so it is time to have a positive mindset and act differently in order to support our local manufacturers, because the covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated that nothing will work in a country without indigenous manufacturers. Working with manufacturers in other countries rather than patronizing locally produced tomatoes in Nigeria, can be frustrating to local farmers and industries in their efforts to survive and pay taxes. Conserving tomatoes is important for our health because they are natural and high in nutrients and vitamin D, allowing us to produce and process them in our own country rather than exposing it to financial and health risk.
Africa: the difficult match between agriculture and industry – Tomato News. (2020). Tomatonews.com. https://www.tomatonews.com/en/africa-the-difficult-match-between-agriculture-and-industry_2_1030.html
Arise News. (2020). Tomato Jos: Creating a middle class rural Nigeria – Mira Mehta [YouTube Video]. On YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-VVZ2jwgAYk&list=WL&index=2&t=311s
Channels Television. (2021). Problems Of Tomato Farming In Nigeria, And How To Overcome Them – Analyst [YouTube Video]. On YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kmcUgtf4EDU&list=WL&index=4
Elamah, R. (2017). FARMERS MARKET: WOMEN FARMERS BRAVING THE ODDS [YouTube Video]. On YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bew_o5XfTDY&list=WL&index=5
Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN. (2020). Reducing Postharvest Loss in Nigeria – Tomatoes [YouTube Video]. In YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_oM_MZ1hTGc
Verma, M., Plaisier, C., van Wagenberg, C., & Achterbosch, T. (2019). A Systems Approach to Food Loss and Solutions: Understanding Practices, Causes, and Indicators. Sustainability, 11(3), 579. https://doi.org/10.3390/su11030579
Y3BA AFRICA. (2020). The Tomato War On Africans [YouTube Video]. In YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kAEeKeX7qIw