Importation should be an action aimed at bringing in things which are not available or inadequately available into a particular country. In the case of tomato in Nigeria, the importation adds to the excessiveness of the ones being produced in the country. Nigeria imports a lot of things which are already available in the country ranging from food items, to useful tools, to even toothpick. The focus of this piece would not be placed generally, but on importation of tomato products.
A lot of the tomatoes being produced in Nigeria comes from the North, but now, in the south-western part of the country, tomato production has scaled up. NIHORT, earlier this year, said that the production of tomato has increased by 27.8% which brings the rate to about 2.3 million metric tonnes from 1.8 million metric tonnes. In the world, Nigeria stands at 11th and the second largest in Africa.
Where do these products go?
We produce a lot but we don’t consume or use them all. About 50% of these tomatoes produced in Nigeria get spoilt. This happens because of several factors which include lack of processing, preservation, transportation to consumers and also due to competition with imported products of tomatoes.
In 2019, the federal government of Nigeria led by President Muhammadu Buhari said that the ban on tomato paste importation would soon be put in place and that there will be no products coming into the country. But as it stands now, we still don’t have that ban being executed.
Currently, the demand for fruits and vegetables has increased worldwide as people are looking for ways to strengthen their immune system so as to be safe from the deadly virus. Tomato is a very good source of vitamins, it contains vitamins like vitamin A, C E. it is also a very good antioxidant.
What is the way forward?
Cherishing our own products should be something we should always do. And this would bring a lot of good to the country. It would result in generation of more income, increased economy growth and a better standard of living. The government and NGOs should put more effort into the channel of distribution of tomato products. We should be exporting these products. Not just Tomatoes but other agricultural products like palm oil, rubber, cocoa, etc. Before Oil came, we were top exporters of these agricultural products and this is where we should go back to.