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Some traders in Abuja have attributed the scarcity of fresh tomatoes to disease and acidic rain and appealed to the three tiers of government to address the problem.
A seller in one of the markets in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mr. Yinusa Isa, said between April and May, most tomato farmers from Kano and Zaria complained of the tuta absoluta pest attacks.
Isa said the same scarcity of fresh tomatoes occurred within the same period in 2016, and appealed to government intervene to save the situation.
He said between February and March, a big basket of tomatoes which cost N3,000 to N3,500 now cost N15,000 to N20,000.
â€œOne waste bin basket measure was sold for N500 but it is currently being sold at N2,000,â€ he said.
Another trader, Garba Ibrahim, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the reason why tomato farms were dying in the north was because of the acidity in rain water.
â€œNormally, the tomato plants are watered with water, but as soon as the rains come, the plants begin to die because of too much acid in the rain water.
â€œThe tomatoes I have now for sale are from Niger Republic, although we have tomatoes available in Jos, but that is the one of the places we currently have good tomatoes in Nigeria,â€ he said.
Mrs. Zainab Dogo, a buyer at Dutse market, who had been buying in the same market for over three decades, said that she had never bought tomatoes for this much until recently.
â€œI used to buy a basket of tomatoes at N8,500, but now it is being sold for N20,000 at the popular Dei-Dei market which is one of the cheapest food markets in Abuja.
â€œThe sellers are saying that they do not have enough tomatoes to sell to their customers while some are complaining about rain water being acidic on tomatoes,â€ she said.
Mrs. Adebimpe Odewale, a buyer at Bwari market, said that the price of tomatoes, a key ingredient for most delicacies such as jollof rice, sauce and stew, had increased by 400 per cent.
â€œPeople who sell tomatoes now buy a basket for twice the price. Five tomatoes, which used to be N50, are now sold for N200.
â€œMe and my household cannot do without fresh tomatoes and I do buy it like that but I pray it will not be like last year, adding that last year was worst tomato scarcity ever.
Scarcity of fresh tomatoes occurred for the first time in Nigeria in 2016 which was attributed to a disease called tuta absoluta pest attacks but Federal Government proffer solution it.
The tuta absoluta ant actually originated from South America in 1912 and is spreading to other parts of the world like Europe and Africa and came to Nigeria in 2016 through Niger Republic.