• Friday, June 21, 2024
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Nigeria lose out on tomato exportation, as poor seedlings cut production

Nigerian processors struggle as tomato prices jump ninefold

Nigeria, despite being rated one of the leading producers of tomato in Africa, is currently missing out among tomato exporting nations.

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mohammad Abubakar disclosed this at the launch of HortiNigeria Project in Abuja on Thursday. He attributed it to challenges of low yield resulting from poor seed type used by Nigerian farmers.

According to the Minister, Nigeria’s various ecologies, soil and climatic conditions are suitable for production of horticultural crops.

“The Nigerian climate confers an immense competitive advantage and potential to have a leading role in tomato production and trade,” Abubakar said.

He explained that the HortiNigeria initiative presents an opportunity to promote activities of the horticultural sub-sector, adding that the government is looking forward to catalysing increased productivity in the sector.

According to him, the project is expected to facilitate business to business linkage and partnership, as it seeks to empower over 60,000 smallholder farmers across the country.

The project awarded to International Fertiliser Development Centre (IFDC) and its consortium partners East-West seed Knowledge Transfer (EWS-KT), Wageningen University and Research (WUR) and KIT Royal Tropical Institute, is implemented in Kano, Kaduna, Ogun and Oyo States, focusing on tomato, okra, onion, and pepper value chains.

Read also: Aminu Nyako: growing a thriving dairy farm in Northeast

In his remarks, Dutch Ambassador to Nigeria, Harry van Dijk said the horticulture sector in Nigeria offers many opportunities as local market demand for vegetables largely exceeds local production, with an estimated supply gap of 13 million metric tons.

He noted that the project will contribute to a more sustainable and inclusive horticulture system in Nigeria.

According to him, the sector employs a high number of women and youth and increased horticultural production. It will lead to better availability and affordability of nutritious foods.

“The focus is on vegetables for domestic markets and the program has four components which are interconnected.

“The first component strives towards increasing productivity and incomes of 60, 000 smallholder farmers in Kano and Kaduna: in an environmentally sustainable way.

“The second component pilots production systems innovations, in Ogun and Oyo states: supporting greenhouse technologies and offering connections to Lagos markets.

“The third component focuses on increasing access to finance throughout vegetable value chains: mobilising EUR 6 million of private capital for farmers, traders, processors and SMEs, while the fourth component enhances sector coordination and business-to-business linkages: contributing to improvements in federal and state horticultural policies,” he added.

Albin Hubscher, IFDC president, in his remark said that soil quality in West Africa is currently in a dire condition as most of the soils in this area are depleted from nutrients.

“If we consider that the Africa population by the end of this century is going to be as big as the Asia population, and if we further consider that today, Africa has only 80 percent of food security.

“There is a lot for all of us to do in order to change that going forwards and this is the reason why IFDC is so much involved in Africa, to help the population to increase food security through better productivity,” he said.