Business is booming.

Stakeholders decry 60% post-harvest loss in crop production

Stakeholders in the horticulture value chain have revealed that Nigeria suffers about 60 post-harvest losses annually in tomato production and other vegetables.

This was revealed on Tuesday in Abuja at the National Tomato Stakeholders workshop with the theme ‘Tomato Value Chain: Emerging and Longstanding Challenges and Sustainable Solutions’.

The stakeholders also disclosed that the losses and deficits recorded in the value-chain presented opportunities for investment, which in turn would curb losses the country suffered yearly.

The project coordinator of Horti Nigeria, Mohammed Salasi, lamented that the losses recorded were due to the lack of adequate cold storage facilities, temperature facilities, and gross shortage of plastic crates, and trucks among others.

According to Salsai 60 million crates are needed in the country to replace raffia baskets with only 300,000 available, and 90 percent of retailers, producers and middlemen use the rafia baskets in the country.

He also said 25,000 trucks are needed but only 1,000 are available.

He further said there was a deficit of 13m metric tonnes of tomatoes and other vegetables, which presented a huge investment opportunity.

However, he urged investors to establish park houses and temperature control facilities to curb large amounts of post-harvest losses, adding that part of the work of Horticulture Nigeria is to introduce seed varieties that will last slightly longer.

Salsai also informed that Horti Nigeria is working with stakeholders to create a more enabling environment for investment in the value chain.

On the issue of multiple road taxes suffered by suppliers, he said Horti Nigeria is working with the government at all levels to ensure a harmonised and recognised tax. According to him, the multiple taxes are a disincentive for tomato producers as it increases the price of the produce.

Salasi further highlighted investment opportunities in the local production of soluble fertilizer. “Horti is working with local producers of liquid urea to have soluble fertilizer produced in the country, and that is also a huge potential of investment and a big market looking at the sizable number of greenhouses.

“In addition to that Horti is already carrying out a census of greenhouses across the country, with that, we will be able to have evidence to show the government the size of the market,” he said while noting that the market for soluble fertilizer is projected to hit over $20 billion by 2027.

Deola Lordsbanjou, director of the horticulture division, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said one of the problems the ministry has identified is the issue of tomato levy.

“If you are importing, there must be a levy attached to it, we are not even sure if leaves have been collected, the funds would have been used for research, policy-making and for farmers,” he said.

He also decried the poor synergy between policymakers in agriculture, especially between the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, and the Ministry of Agriculture.

Further, stakeholders at the meeting decried the weak implementation of policies particularly the 2017 tomato sector policy despite its potential to grow the tomato value chain in Nigeria. The policy was considered to have somersaulted due to weak implementation and lack of monitoring.

According to a communique issued at the end of the meeting, farmer groups decried the review of the policy in 2021 without the involvement of all stakeholders that developed it. They expressed their pains on how this has affected the gains that had already been recorded.

Also, the communique recommended that the federal agric ministry, farmer groups and researchers generate empirical data as evidence of the positive impact the 2017 tomato sector policy had or could have had so that it can be used for advocacy for policy makers to revert to the initial agreement of 2017.

It also recommended advocacy, and engagement in round table discussions with policy makers to revert to the 2017 policy; synergy between stakeholders in the review of policies and the creation of awareness among all stakeholders involved in policy formulations and review.

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