Consumers of fresh tomatoes have once again switched over to tomato pastes as tomato ebola makes a comeback.
Exactly same period last year, consumers and farmers of fresh tomatoes across the country were hit by severe scarcity due to same reason.
Daily Sun learnt that a big basket of tomatoes, which previously cost N7,000 and N10,000 in Mile 12 Market a month ago, now goes for N28,000, which is an increase of 300 per cent while a small basket which solar for between N2,500 and N3,000, now sells for N10,000. Experts predicted that a big basket of tomatoes may hit N80,000 and the small one may go for N45,000 if proactive measure is not taken.
However, many fresh tomato sellers have also resorted to purchasing the produce from neighbouring countries, especially the Republic of Benin and Cameroon, in an effort to bridge the shortfall in Nigeria despite being ranked 13th largest producer of tomato in the world and the second after Egypt in Africa. Experts say this would cost Nigeria N25 billion loss in revenue since stakeholders and government failed to prevent recurrence of the moths ravaging tomato farms last year.
A trader at Abulado Market, Iya Biliki, said, “people are not buying fresh tomatoes now because they are very expensive. It is only those that cannot do without it that buy. Even us that are selling, we don’t buy much again because if you buy, who will buy from you?” she asked.
“A basket of tomatoes that cost N4,000 or less before, now costs N8,000 at Mile 12 Market. The ones we used to shade for N50, N100 before, now cost N150 and above.”
Mrs. Nduka Nnedi, a consumer, lamented the hike in price of fresh tomatoes, saying that she has switched over to tomato paste as she cannot afford to buy the fresh one. “Look at what they say is N500. This means for me to buy what will do my cooking, I will buy up to N4,000 tomatoes. I cannot do that; how much was I given to prepare the food?”