Tomato farmers in Katsina have attributed the long period of glut of the produce to its current massive cultivation in the state.
It was reported last year that tomato farmers had devised ways of staggering the planting of the crop to help control its scarcity in the market as well as pest attack; but this year, according to the farmers, though the strategy yielded the expected outcome, it however led to prolonged glut of the produce in the market.
Saminu Bala, an irrigation farmer in Tafoki, said the strategy worked for them last year by controlling the acute scarcity of the produce and tackling the menace of the tuta absoluta pest.
"Considering how the staggering strategy worked for us, last year, many farmers adopted it this year which has now led us to this prolonged glut of the produce in the market.
"Normally, tomato scarcity used to start from mid-March and becomes chronic in April when dried ones are used as substitute," the farmer said.
He added that the development has adversely affected many irrigation farmers.
"We are now selling a small basket at N350 in the farm and a big one at N1,000 to N1,200. There were instances that we sold for below those prices due to excessive market glut," he revealed.
Another farmer in Bakori, Sani Suleiman, said the CBN Anchor-Borrower Programme has helped in the provision of water pumping machines and other inputs to the farmers leading to the massive irrigation activities in the area.
"Besides, our over-saturated irrigation dam, farmers have now gone along river banks to cultivate tomato and other vegetables. That is why there is massive supply this year at a low price," he explained.
Sani added that the farmers are now using 'Tai han' pesticide to mitigate the effect of tuta absoluta in their farms.
"Unlike before when the dreaded pest ravaged tomato farms unabated, farmers this year have found a solution in Tai han pesticide which has strong effect against tuta absoluta," he said.
When this reporter went round some tomato farms, he discovered that while some have finished being harvested, others were bearing fruits while many were in the nursery stage. It was also noticed that the farmers divide their farms into four or more, depending on its size, to stagger the tomato cultivation.