The suspension of the distribution of hybrid tomato seedlings by Dangote farms could create serious production challenges this year, tomato farmers in Kano State have said.
The Chairman of the Kano state branch of the National Tomato Growers, Processors, and Marketers Association of Nigeria, Sani Danladi-Yadakwari, spoke on Monday in Kano.
He said only about 500 of the 10,000 registered tomato farmers under the Central Bank of Nigeria Anchor Borrowers Programme were able to collect the seedlings before the distribution was suddenly suspended.
Farmers who use the hybrid tomato seedling say the varieties have the potential to produce between 40, 60, and 80 and up to 100 tonnes per hectare using the best practices.
"If care is not taken, the essence of distributing the hybrid seedling, which was to boost production of the commodity and meet the demand of tomatoes processing plants in the state, would be a mirage," he warned.
In October, Dangote Farms inaugurated the distribution of hybrid tomato seedlings to tomato farmers under the CBN Anchor Borrower Programme.
But, the programme was suddenly suspended without any hint.
Mr Danladi-Yadakwari, who is also the Secretary-General of the association, said the delay in the distribution of the tomato seedlings would negatively affect farmers clearing their farmlands in preparation for the next planting season.
"What we learnt is that the material with which the tomato seed is mixed with to produce the seedlings exhausted and had to be ordered from outside the country.
"So we hope the problem will be solved in time to enable farmers plant the seedlings in time to beat the time for the planting, otherwise it will be late," he said.
He called on Dangote Tomato Processing Company and the Central Bank of Nigeria to immediately address the challenges to save the farmers from any stress.
The Managing Director of Dangote Farms, Abdulkarim Kaita, who confirmed the suspension of the distribution of the seedlings, however, assured the distribution of the seedlings would soon resume.
He said the CBN had taken delivery of the materials (components) used in mixing the tomato seeds before producing its seedlings.
"The materials had to be ordered from outside the country. But, I am happy to tell you that the CBN has taken the delivery of the materials and the distribution will soon resume.
"The period of the distribution has also been extended to the end of January 2020 instead of December. 2019," said Mr Kaita.