Tomato farmers in Katsina State are smiling to the banks as the price of the commodity jerked up recently. In most farms in the state, a big basket is sold at between N4,000 and N4,5000.
At the same period last year, farmers and merchants of tomato in the state were badly affected by glut of the produce which crashed the price to N300 per big basket and with only few buyers.
Shazalli Ahmad, a tomato farmer in Danja LGA, attributed the recent increase to the withdrawal of some farmers from cultivating the crop and others who switched over to wheat farming for fear of glut and the dreaded tomato ‘Ebola’ disease experienced last year.
“Tomato markets here are not as saturated as they were last year when we had no option other than to sun-dry it for future sales. Some of the farmers lost interest in tomato farming from that awful experience and that of the tomato Ebola disease, while some others switched to seek their fortunes in wheat farming.
“The price this year is good as the least we sold a basket here is N900 and it has now reached up to N4,500,” he explained.
Shazalli commended the Katsina State government for the establishment of tomato paste processing plant at Kokami- Danja LGA, adding that “the development will address the problem of tomato glut in the state and provide job opportunities to the teaming youth along the tomato value chain.”
Another farmer in Babban Rafi, Alhaji Muhammad Ahmed, said contrary to the fears expressed by some farmers, the tomato disease this year was not as devastating as it was two years ago.
“With close monitoring of farms and application of pesticides like Ampligo 15OZC, the disease is being mitigated; and those that planted the crop from last August to December and early January reaped a lot of profit as the crop was not seriously attacked by the disease,” he said.
Alhaji Muhammad recalled how he lost over N800,000 to tomato glut last year, a situation that almost forced him out of business but “God so kind this year, I earned N1,200,000 from the same farm after I sold the produce at N4,000 per big basket,” he explained.
He also thanked the administration of Governor Aminu Bello Masari for “making agriculture a priority especially with the recent plan to construct an earth dam for irrigation in Danja LGA.’’
Another farmer, Aliyu Yusuf Babban Rafi, observed that the construction of an earth dam in the area was a welcome idea as the irrigation farmers depend solely on wells and wash bores to water their farms.
“From the month of March to June, many of us here moved to places like Kafur, Barebari and Kadawa in Kano State, where there is adequate water for irrigation farming; but when this Danja dam is successfully constructed, I assure you there would be an agricultural boom in the area and the state as a whole,” he noted.