Farmers, under the aegis of Tomatoes and Orchard Producers Association of Nigeria (TOPAN), have said that tomato is one of the lucrative businesses in the world especially in Nigeria where 98 percent of Nigerians consume the produce. The National President of association, Bola Oyeleke, made the call in an interview while calling on the government to shift attention to the produce. He said planting tomato during the raining season is highly expensive and that during the season, there are lots of diseases that come up, hence the need for government’s intervention
“You have to deal with the disease; you have to deal with so many issues, so you find out that some of the farmers that produce tomato do not have the capital to produce huge production during this time. That is why you find out that these diseases crave into the small farms damaging the soil and also damaging the plants roaming around the tomato. That is why we are calling on the government to refocus and ensure that the tomato sector in Nigeria is given attention and also see how they can support farmers to increase their productivity”, he said. Oyeleke added that the problem is that small scale farmers do not have enough income to do land preparation. He said what causes most of these diseases is that most farmers’ land preparation is very poor. Our land preparation is very poor in Nigeria, our small scale farmers are not using mechanisation for land preparation and the short time they use to prepare land is short to kill some of these diseases”, he said.
Explaining further he said, “land preparation is a community issue because the community has to come together to do land preparation at the same time. If it is done at the same time, you will find out that most of these pests will not see where to hide because what always causes the problem is that if ‘A’ prepares his land and ‘B’ does not prepare his land, these diseases will fly down to the land that is not well prepared. So, when ‘B’ is preparing his land, ‘A’ crop has started growing, by that time the diseases will leave ‘B’ farm and will now shift its attention to ‘A’ farm and destroy his production, so we are looking for a situation where all the small scale farmers within the community will do their land preparation at the same time”, he disclosed.