Barring any unforeseen circumstances, the prices of tomatoes which currently hover around N30, 000 is expected to fall by about 75percent to N7, 000 per 50kg basket by early December, according to experts in the industry.
According to these industry watchers, the drop in prices will however start by aAugust ending till it falls to about N7, 000 per 50kg basket in first week of December. But this prediction of an end to the scarcity is based more on weather forecast rather than deployment of appropriate technologies.
For instance, Southwest farmers expect that in August, there would be many sunshine days after the heavy rains of June and July, so tomatoes in the field would start ripening and would be available abundantly at the end of August.
Abiodun Oyelekan, head, Lagos Fadama apex body said, “Tomatoes grown in the Southwest will be available for sale in the market by August ending and this will start reducing the prices significantly.”
To reach the expected lowest price of N7, 000 this year, Usman Baba, a leading commodities dealer in Mile 12 market, Lagos explained, “The current tomato scarcity will end by November/December this year when tomatoes grown in the north will be in abundant supply. But the prices will not return to N5,000 which was the price it was sold early this year. The 50kg basket will most likely be sold for N7,000 by early December.”
Every year within the last 10 years due to climate change, the prices of tomatoes go up astronomically around May to August. In 2014, prices of tomatoes rose from lowest N3, 000 to highest N17, 000. But this year, prices of tomatoes rose by 90percent, from lowest N3,000/N5,000 to highest of N30,000 and more between May and now. This is the most astronomical in recent years and it is mainly due to delay in rainfall, and the fuel scarcity which was prevalent at that period and poor road infrastructure.
However, some industry watchers have noted that the CBN’s recent policy withholding foreign exchange for importation of 41 items including tomato pastes could impact on this yearly and expected fall in prices.