Nigeria imported a whooping 189.5 metric tonnes of tonnes of tomato paste in 12 months Mr Duro Kuteyi of Betamark Consulting revealed.
The expert made the disclosure, on Friday, February 17, in Lagos, while reacting to issues of post-harvest waste of fresh tomatoes in major farms across the country.
He said that there was a lot of waste of fresh tomatoes and pepper in Nigeria. Kuteyi attributed the reasons to post harvest losses and lack of processing techniques which had made Nigerians to rely on imported tomato products.
“In spite of being identified as the 14th largest producer of tomatoes, it is sad to note that Nigeria imports various processed tomato products for the consumption of its nationals, he said.
“The imported tomato products include, canned tomato paste, tomato ketchup and various sauces, canned tomato fruit, etc.
“Between 2015 and 2016, a total of 189,510.11 metric tons of tomato paste was imported into Nigeria.“This is equivalent to 1,042,305.68 metric tons of fresh tomatoes.
“A lot of the tomatoes grown in Nigeria suffer post harvest losses incurred from transporting harvest from the farms in the northern part of the country where they are grown, to the southern markets where they are consumed.
“These no doubt prevent sizeable proportion of the harvested tomatoes from getting to the consumer and end in garbage heaps nation-wide.
“However, post-harvest losses can be minimized or completely eliminated if food processing techniques are put to practice.”
To minimise post-harvest losses, Kuteyi said that his organisation had partnered Bank of Industry (BoI) to sponsor the training of Nigerians on tomato and pepper processing in 12 states in the federation.