Katsina tomato farmers plot way out of glut, scarcity

Tomato farmers in Katsina State have devised a way of tackling glut, as well as scarcity of the produce by staggering its cultivation within the time frame of dry season farming.
Some years back, the farmers suffered chronic glut of the produce, as the various farming communities harvested the produce at the same time.
A farmer in Tafoki Faskari Local Government Area, Sagir Ahmed, said that though staggering tomato cultivation had long been popular among farmers in some states, lack of adequate and reliable irrigation water hadmade those in Katsina to use what was available and produce the crop in droves.
“Water has since been our source of concern, the small dam we are using hardly takes us to the month of April going by the large irrigation fields we are cultivating. To tackle market glut or scarcity of the produce, we have divided our farmlands and staggered the planting of the crop, so that we can harvest them differently at an average interval of one month,” he Ahmed said.
He added that the tactics employed helped in maintaining market supply of the produce and, at the same time, mitigated the wanton loss usually incurred by farmers during the glut of the produce.
“As you can see, tomato price is fairly stabilise this year; the least we sold a big basket was N1,300 and now we are selling it at N2,500 at the farm,” Ahmed added.
 He further expressed optimism that farmers would not experience a serious market glut that would result in mass sun-drying of the produce this year.
It was discovered that young men, in their 20s and 30s, at Tafoki village, have taken over the irrigation activities, a situation that is boosting the volume of tomato produced yearly in the area.
 A large-scale farmer, Shafi’u Ashiru, said that almost every family had one or two persons that partook in irrigation activities in the village. 
“We are gainfully employed in our farms here. This year alone, I harvested have 3,350 baskets of tomato from two farms, which I sold at varying prices of N1,500 to N3,000 per basket. We don’t travel out in search of greener posture in this village as God has provided enough at our door steps,” Ashiru said. 
He further explained that tomato pests remained their headache, as they have not found a complete remedy for the disease.
 “The pests start at the beginning of February or early March. We always depend on the combination of pesticides, such as sharp shooter, laraforce, etc. to lessen the impact of the pests on the produce,” he said.
 Another farmer, Abdullahi Sabi’u Tafoki, said that during the harvest period, not less than 500 youngsters from within and outside the village engaged in either harvesting, packaging, and loading of the produce at a five-day interval.
 “Youth from Funtua, Danja and Bakori come here yearly to engage in harvest. Because of the volume of tomato produced, our target has always been the markets in Ibadan and Mile 12 in Lagos. Buyers from the eastern part of the country and, sometimes, Port Harcourt, follow us to our farms to buy the produce, he added.
 He thanked the Katsina State Government for the rehabilitation of Tafoki road, adding that the “attention of the government is needed to complete the dredging of Tafoki dam to adequately sustain irrigation farming in the area.”

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