Why we sun-dry toma­toes re­gard­less of mar­ket price – Deal­ers

Sunday Trust - - AGRIC BUSINESS - From Idris Mah­moud, Katsina

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.

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