There is a lesson for us to learn from Nigeria about how to use the tomato produce better.
Nigerian farmers produced 65% of the tomatoes grown in West Africa, but paradoxically, it was also the largest importer of tomato paste in the world. The second largest producer of tomatoes in Africa, 45% of its produce goes to waste due to lack of infrastructure and storage facilities. Sounds so familiar, doesn’t it? And we constantly like to tell ourselves that we are nothing like Africa, we are way ahead in terms of development. Maybe we are but the irrefutable truth is that we are still a developing country and our problems, like Africa are looked upon as that of a third world country in the Western world.
Coming back to Nigeria, to overcome this problem of wastage and then import, Meera Mehta, a Finnish/Indian and American citizen started a for-profit company, Tomato Jos. This Nigeria-based agro-processing company focused on the local production of high-quality tomato paste for the African market and even in these critical times, managed to raise €3.9m in Series A funding.
The company has also started making tomato paste to conserve the tomatoes and avoid wastage and her idea is to brand it and start selling off the shelves in Africa from the second half of this year.
There are many such for-profit and non-profit companies which help farmers sustain and cut down the wastage of their produce. Maybe, pastes, canned and frozen veggies and powders is the way out – we have seen so many pictures of farm products rotting on the roadside during this pandemic and farmers making no money; maybe this is the way ahead to help in these times.