Why we sun-dry tomatoes regardless of market price – Dealers
Dried tomato dealers in Katsina State have said the poor market price of fresh tomatoes is not a determining factor for massive sun-drying of the produce usually experienced yearly in the area.
Dried tomato business is fast gaining ground in the state, generating high revenue to its dealers; especially in the months of April, May and June when scarcity of fresh tomatoes reaches its peak.
The Secretary of Dried Tomato Sellers Association (DTSA) in Danja Local Government Area, Mohammed Kabir Tukur, said though price instability had always been an issue in fresh tomato market, but that it had never been a determining factor of how much of the produce would be dried.
“Drying tomatoes has gradually become a sort of value addition to the produce considering its perishable nature and lack of modern processing plants in our area. Many of us make more money from it than from the fresh produce; especially in the months of April and June when the fresh one is acutely scarce,” he said.
He added that in comparison to the last two years, fresh tomatoes, this year, yielded more profit to its farmers as the least they sold a basket was N1,000; and that it did not stop them from massively sun-drying it for future sales.
“Most times when fresh tomatoes are expensive, there is likelihood that dried ones too would be expensive before the rain-fed ones start bearing fruits,” Kabir explained.
Daily Trust observed that a 100kg bag of dried tomatoes now cost between N10,000 and N14,000 depending on its quality; but that in the month of June the price can reach up to N30,000.
A tomato dealer at Kokami Market, Usman Abdullahi, said for the first time in the history of their business, the Katsina State Government had in collaboration with some agro-companies been trying to modernise the process of drying the produce.
“To modernise the preservation processes of the produce, the Katsina State Government, in partnership with some companies, is trying to supply us with reliable drier machines for quality output. The one they brought last year was not economical for the business as it guzzled over N7,000 fuel before it dried a basket of tomato. In our traditional way we pay not more than N150 to slice and spread a basket of tomatoes in the sun,” said Abdullahi.
He added that they were now waiting for a more economical machine to substitute the first one they brought.
The Vice Chairman of DTSA in Kokami Market, Mal. Rabi’u Isah, thanked Governor Aminu Bello Masari for giving attention to the agricultural sector in the state.
Isah said, “We remain grateful to this administration for its effort to modernise our business and the establishment of a tomato processing factory that is nearing completion at Kokami, as well as the proposed Danja Irrigation Dam to boost agricultural activities in the area.”
He also appealed to the state government to speed up the completion of the projects for the benefit of the masses in the area.