The Tomato Growers Association of Nigeria (TOGAN) has urged the Federal Government to establish cottage processing plants in tomato producing areas.
The Secretary General of TOGAN, Alhaji Sani Danladi-Yadakwari, made the call in an interview with newsmen Wednesday in Kano. He said that establishing the plants in areas where the commodity is being produced on a large scale would assist in mopping it up, especially during seasonal glut.
“There is need for the Federal Government to build cottage processing plants in states where tomato is being produced in large commercial quantity to check seasonal glut. These plants can be sited at Bunkure, Kura, Bagwai and Garunmalam Local Government areas in Kano State and other states like Katsina, Kaduna, Jigawa and Plateau where the commodity is also produced,” he said.
According to him, the processed tomato can be used in the Federal Government’s school feeding programme across the country to check wastage. He added that despite the Federal Government’s ban on importation of tomato paste into the country, the commodity was still being imported by unpatriotic elements. “The smuggled tomato is being dumped at Benin Republic and Ghana before being transported to Nigeria,” he said.
He, therefore, charged the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) to ensure effective enforcement of the ban on importation of the commodity to save farmers from going out of business.
He identified lack of market access, poor handling practices and importation of the commodity as some of the challenges bedeviling tomato production in the country.
“Even though the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) has enforced the order on the ban on importation of tomato paste but the commodity is still being imported into the country.
“We, however, plan to visit the Comptroller General of the service to forward our complaint with a view to addressing the situation,” he said. He also commended the Kano state government for providing farmers with 10, 000 packages of improved tomato seeds and 10,000 cartons of insecticide.