Nigeria is Africa’s second-largest tomato producer. Ironically, this is also the third largest importer of tomato paste and the thirteenth in the world.
This dependence on imports irritates the government. In 2015, the Central Bank of Nigeria prevented importers of tomatoes and tomato paste from accessing foreign exchange through official channels. Two years later, the federal government introduced a tomato Politics focused on stimulating local production and reducing imports. The policy imposed an additional tariff of 50% and a levy of $ 1,500 for each tonne of tomato imported. Meanwhile, tomato processors who source locally are granted a tax holiday.
Like most of Nigeria’s recent agricultural policies, the tomato policy took a protectionist approach to boost local production of tomato and tomato paste, ignoring the underlying reasons that made imports attractive.
We import tomatoes and tomato concentrates because they are local supply is below demand. Even when we produce enough, we lose too much due to poor storage and transportation. Thus, Nigeria, with 3.8 million tonnes of tomatoes produced in 2019, the second in Africa, is still unable to meet its national demand of 3.2 million tonnes.
Here’s the problem: Protectionist policies can work. In fact, they sort of worked in the tomato industry: the current tomato production is 30% higher than the 2.3 million tonnes we produced in 2016. The problem is that we have used protectionist policies. to increase production without filling other gaps in the value chain. .
Most smallholders continue to plant tomatoes seasonally, resulting in surpluses during and after the dry season when tomatoes are growing, and shortages during the rainy season, causing prices to rise. Second, the storage infrastructure is poor; when farmers produce, they have nowhere to store their tomatoes.
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