In a bid to stop the huge annual loss suffered by tomato farmers from wastage, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture has concluded plans to make available portable processing machines for the product.

John Owkudili, a consultant with the? Federal Ministry of Agriculture on horticulture value chain development, made the disclosure on Thursday.

He expressed regrets that tomato farmers produce large quantity of the product but suffer huge losses due to wastage.

“The machines will cost N90 million and will be distributed to tomato farmers,” Okwudili said. “The absence of facilities to process, preserve and package tomato surplus is really negating the effort of farmers.

“The portable tomato processing machine is intended to help solve the problem of wastage, by ensuring that farmers get more value for their money.”

Okwudili explained that the machines were designed to transform tomato into semi-product that could be preserved for two years.

According him, this would help in reducing the huge losses that had become the farmers’ lot.

“With the opportunity to process tomato into semi-product, farmers can obtain high returns on investment and can attract other people to venture into the business,” Okwudili said.

“Nigeria, with a large population of more than 150 million people, is a ready market for tomato product. There is no family that does not use tomato, onions and pepper everyday.”

He said that the machine was a simplified technology that would enable farmers to operate, process and maintain the product with or without any formal training.

Okwudili advised farmers to organise themselves into co-operative groups, so as to obtain the portable processing machine as a group and reap maximum returns.

“After transforming the fresh tomato into concentrate, companies that are into packaging will buy the semi-finish product and package it for good marketing,” he said.

“If these measures are put in place, farmers will produce tomato all year round, irrespective of season.”

“With good packaging, marketers will be attracted to render their services by ensuring that the finished product is accepted by the consumers.”

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