NIGERIA – The Tomatoes and Orchard Producers Association of Nigeria (TOPAN) has called for decentralization of tomato production to boost sustainability and market growth.

Recently, TOPAN president Oyeleke Bola made this call. He noted that the sector requires government intervention as Nigeria, despite being the largest producer of tomatoes in West Africa, cannot feed local consumption efficiently and is yet to attract 5 percent investment to itself.

“We need to decentralize our production and not just limit it to certain regions, the government should check out for other possible regions where tomatoes can do well, this would bring about industrialization, value addition, investors, and business opportunities,” he said.

Bola also urged the government to focus more on bringing processing industries close to the farm and see how processing can begin from the farm gate.

According to TOPAN, the current centralized production system in Nigeria is not conducive for value addition and has led to significant post-harvest losses.

The association argues that by decentralizing tomato production, farmers would have better access to processing facilities and markets, allowing them to add value to their products and increase their income.

Decentralization would also help to reduce the transportation costs and time associated with moving tomatoes from remote farming areas to processing facilities.

This would not only save money for farmers but also ensure that the tomatoes reach the processing facilities in a fresh and timely manner, resulting in higher-quality products.

“Decentralizing our production would help reduce losses and also bring tomato production closer to these processing companies that way tomato is being processed almost as at the time it was harvested, this would enable farmers make more profit and also the economy at large can benefit too,” added Bola.

In addition, decentralization would create employment opportunities in rural areas, as processing facilities would be established closer to the farms.

This would not only boost the local economy but also reduce rural-urban migration, as farmers would have access to processing facilities and markets within their own communities.

TOPAN is also advocating for the establishment of tomato processing hubs in different regions of Nigeria. These hubs would serve as central points for the processing, packaging, and distribution of tomato products.

By establishing these hubs, farmers would have a reliable market for their produce and would be able to negotiate better prices for their products.

By decentralizing tomato production and promoting value addition, TOPAN believes that Nigeria can maximize the potential of its tomato industry and improve the livelihoods of tomato farmers.

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