Tomato farmers in Benue State are worried over the wastage of their produce due to lack of storage facilities, calling on the government to help them out.
The Managing Director of Teryima Farms, Vitalis Ternongo, urged government to provide means of ending the wastage.
He said that in Tse-Kutcha and Wannune villages in Tarka Local Government Area, tomatoes were left to waste because there were no buyers.
“Government should provide facilities to process the produce or, else, there is no point calling on the people to embark on agriculture,” he said.
The government can also help the farmers to purchase good seeds at subsidised rate, he added.
Ternongo, a tomato farmer, said the farmers did not know how to preserve their produce, and called on the government to procure good seedlings which can stay longer than one month after harvest.
He said: “I will harvest my tomatoes and for more than one month, it would not spoil. These seeds planted by the villagers are not good; even government will tell you that they can’t process such tomatoes.
“If the farmers plant good tomatoes, it would not waste for, at least three months. There are organic chemicals that can be spread on the tomato to maintain its span but our people don’t know it.”
Another tomato farmer, Mrs. Regina Terfa, who used to transport her produce from her Tarka village to Makurdi High Level Market, said it was disheartening to watch her harvest spoil because of lack of storage facility.
A tomato seller, Mnguusuur Chia, at the Wadata Market, laments the fall in prices of the produce, saying that patronage was low, in the face of availability of the produce.
Chia, who sells a small basket of tomatoes for between N150 and N200, said she now buys the large basket from farmers at only N1,000 and sometimes N800.
The Benue State Chairman of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Aondona Hembe Kule, speaking in Makurdi, said the federal government ought to have, by now, researched on how to effectively store tomatoes to avoid spoilage.
“Up till now, the federal government has not educated us on how to keep tomatoes from wasting away,” Kule said.
The AFAN chairman laments that the farmers suffer in vain to produce tomatoes which were left to waste indiscriminately.