NIGERIA – Tomato farmers in Gombe State are grappling with post-harvest losses, sounding the alarm on the looming threat to both rainy and dry season tomato production in the region.

Predominantly in Kwadon, Dadin-Kowa, and Kumo towns, tomato farmers are forced to sell their produce at giveaway prices due to the absence of proper storage facilities.

Highlighting the urgency of the issue, Muhammad Abdullahi, a tomato farmer from Kwadon town, emphasized the perishable nature of tomatoes and the pressing need for specific storage conditions to prevent spoilage.

“Without adequate storage facilities such as refrigeration or appropriate packaging, tomatoes are at risk of spoiling quickly, leading to significant losses,” he noted.

Abdullahi shed light on the cascading impact of insufficient storage capacity, asserting that farmers find themselves unable to store their harvest effectively, resulting in wastage.

“This not only causes financial losses for the farmers but also contributes to food waste and inefficiencies in the supply chain,” he explained.

The lack of storage facilities and large-scale buyers exacerbates the vulnerability of farmers to price fluctuations, making them dependent on local markets.

Abdullahi underscored the limitations this imposes on farmers, hindering their access to distant markets with higher demand and better prices.

Addressing the challenges faced by tomato farmers, Malam Abdullahi, with over 40 years of experience in the industry, expressed gratitude for the absence of tuta absoluta—a devastating disease that afflicted their farms the previous year.

However, he highlighted the current hurdle of high fuel costs, making transportation to lucrative markets in the southern part of the country economically challenging.

In a plea to government authorities, Abdullahi urged prioritized funding for the agricultural sector, emphasizing the crucial role it plays in national prosperity. “If a farmer can be supported, the country will prosper, feed itself, and improve the economy,” he stated.

Muhammad Magaji Gettado, National Publicity Secretary of the All-Farmers’ Association of Nigeria (AFAN), weighed in on potential solutions.

He disclosed that the dormant Manto Processing Company in Kumo had been sold to an investor and is expected to commence production soon. This development is projected to process over 100 trucks of tomatoes, yielding tomato paste.

Additionally, Gettado shared insights into the Federal Ministry of Agriculture’s initiatives to introduce modern preservation methods, aiming to extend the shelf life of tomatoes. “We are expecting that these interventions will help our farmers and make tomato farming profitable,” he affirmed.

As Gombe’s tomato farmers seek relief from post-harvest challenges, the revival of processing companies and the introduction of modern preservation methods emerge as promising steps toward a more sustainable and profitable future for the industry.

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