By George Okoh in Makurdi
Director General and CEO of the Raw Material and Research and Development Council (RMRDC) Dr. Husaini Ibrahim, has revealed that Nigeria spends around $1.5 billion annually on tomato products importation from China and other parts of the world.
Ibrahim said such imports were unsustainable following the economic downturn befalling the country, and added that the country can reverse the trend with the introduction of improved seeds that yield more in dry season farming.
Also, to address the problem of acute shortage of tomato vegetables and boost Nigeria foreign currency earning, the council introduced improved and certified high yielding tomato seeds to various Growers Associations in the country.
Ibrahim, represented by a Consultant with RMRDC, Dr. Usman Argungu Hassan, disclosed these yesterday while addressing farmers in Lafia, and said the essence of introducing the improved seeds is to boost its production in the country.
“In Nigeria in spite of all the comparative advantage the country has in all year round tomato production, we are largely dependent on importation of tomato paste and other tomato products from China and other exporting countries, which is unacceptable”, he said.
According to Ibrahim, the council has developed a robust monitoring and evaluating plan in conjunction with the Nasarawa state government to ensure productivity in crop production.
Earlier, while welcoming the DG to the event, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Agriculture Nasarawa State, Mr. Naphthali Dachor commended the council for researching and improving the tomato seed, which is reportedly resistant to diseases and pest.
He advised famers in the state to go into dry season farming using irrigation technique for bountiful harvest. He disclosed that during dry season crops like tomato yield twice as much as it does during the raining season.
Dachor also called on the council to assist farmers in the state by setting up a tomato production factory in order to check wastage of produce.
Responding on behalf of farmers, Mr. Ali Adamu said with the introduction of the new seeds, farmers in the state will increase their efforts and hope for a bountiful yield in March 2016.