Jos — The price of tomato has risen in Jos, the Plateau State capital, few days after the presidential and National Assembly elections. Many are wondering why there is a sudden change in the price of the commodity, especially in the period when naira notes are scarce in the hands of buyers.
Weeks to the presidential poll, the price of tomato in the state fell drastically and a basket of the commodity was sold between N700 and N1,000, a situation that made many farmers and dealers to cry out over the magnitude of losses they incurred. They attributed the situation to the scarcity of naira notes.
The situation became worse as there were no buyers who could pay as low as N700 per basket.
Traders who spoke with Daily Trust on Sunday attributed the sudden increase in the price of the commodity after the elections to certain factors.
Abubakar Adamu, a tomato dealer at the popular Farin Gada market in Jos North Local Government Area, attributed the price increase to the shortage of the commodity in the North, where most farmers exhausted their tomatoes, making Plateau and Kano the only places where one can find it at the moment.
“Dry season farming is almost everywhere in the North. The commodity was cheap because most places engaged in farming and were harvesting concurrently, so supply would be sufficient, thereby forcing the price to come down. But all these places have exhausted their tomatoes, except Plateau and Kano. That is why the demand is high. A basket of the commodity is sold at N3,000,” Adamu said.
Adamu said another factor could be connected to the fact that many farmers did not cultivate tomatoes due to the high cost of doing so. He said, “Many farmers do not have money to maintain their farms; that is why they left. The present cash situation in the country also worsened the situation.
“Those still in the system are few and can’t provide sufficient tomatoes. This is also part of the reasons the price is increasing by the day.”
Lamenting over the situation, Naomi Atik, a tomato dealer and farmer at the Farin Gada market said, “There is no money for transportation to take tomatoes to market because fuel has been expensive. Our tomatoes remained in the farms and eventually got rotten. At a point, the price crashed and farmers lost their capital. It was a difficult experience.”
She attributed the sudden increase in price to the presence of more buyers, especially those coming from the southern part of the country. “I think one of the reasons for the rise in the price oftomatoes is that people from the southern part of the country are coming to buy, after the presidential election.
“The farmers are happy with the development because they have spent a lot and need to recover their expenses.”
Abdullahi Usman, the deputy chairman of the tomato market association said, “I have been in this market for many years but never experienced a situation where tomato would crash to the level we saw it this time.
“The cashless policy introduced by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is new to farmers, so they don’t accept mobile transfer. They prefer to sell their products in cash. Tomato was everywhere in the market, and that was why many of the farmers lost their capital.”
He further explained that before the presidential election, buyers from the South were afraid of the unknown, so they could not take their money to the North.
Asked whether the price would continue to increase despite the cashless policy, he said, “From now to July the price of tomato would not come down because it is seasonal. Majority of the people of the area would engage in other farming activities.”
Naomi Atik further said, “It is our prayer that the price would shoot up so that farmers can gain, but anything can happen. It can rise or come down, depending on market situation.”
The dealers further maintained that from now to July, there is the likelihood that the price of the commodity would continue to increase.