The Federal Government yesterday said Nigeria spends N16 billion yearly on importing tomatoes.
Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sonny Echono, who puts the country’s domestic demand for tomatoes at 2.3 million tonnes, said the country only produces 1.8 million tonnes yearly.
Echono, who spoke at a workshop on “Development and application of post-harvest handling model for horticural Crops” in Abuja, added that 750, 000 tonnes of tomatoes is lost to post-harvest.
He said: “Horticultural crops, because of their delicate nature face tremendous post-harvest challenges.
In Nigeria, specifically, tomatoes has the highest priorities with domestic demand of 2.3 million tonnes of fresh production annually, national production of 1.8 million tonnes, waste of over 750, 000 tonnes and an import bill of N16 billion to make up for shortfall in local production.
“Post-harvest losses have been estimated to range between five and 20 per cent for grains; 20 per cent for fish and as high as between 50 and 60 per cent for tubers, fruits and vegetables.”
Mr. Echono, who was represented by the Director, Agribusiness and Market Development, Engr. Jatto Ohiare, said N717 million is spent by the country in importing citrus.
Echono said the horticultural sector is faced with problem of processing and post-harvest handling, adding that 1.53 million tonnes of citrus production is lost yearly.
He added that government is working with private sector to tackle post-harvest challenges.
He said: “Citrus has national production of 3.48 million tonnes, contributing about 29.71 per cent of the world’s production and 81.93 per cent of Africa’s total output.
However, 1.53 million tonnes of citrus production is lost annually as waste while an annual import of N717 million has been recorded.
“The government of Nigeria among other activities and in partnership with the private sector is tackling this through the establishment of the Staple Crop Processing Zones where horticultural crops processing plants are being built and associated clusters of producers identified and assisted with necessary inputs/infrastructures.
“The establishment of two export crop handling, preservation and conditioning centres.”
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