525,000MT of tomatoes under threat as Kano Tiga Dam shutsdown
Nigeria is on the brink of witnessing another round of tomato scarcity, as the Ministry of Water Resources has shut down Tiga Dam which provides irrigation to over 10,000 tomatoes farmers in Kadawa community in Kano State, BusinessDay findings show.
Kawada valley has one of the most advanced irrigation farming facilitates in the country and the hub of tomato production, as it produces 35 percent of Nigeria’s 1.5 million metric tons (MT) of fresh tomatoes annually, which is equivalent to 525,000MT.
According to the farmers, the dam was shut down by the ministry to carry out maintenance without adequately informing farmers, who had already planted for the dry season.
“The Ministry of Water Resources came to informed us last week that they were going to shut down the dam for maintenance and came back on Tuesday this-week to shut it down without giving us time to look for alternatives,” Sani Danladi, secretary, Tomato Growers Association told BusinessDay in a telephone interview.
“Already, 10,000 farmers have planted tomatoes and onions for the dry season farming to be harvested February next year. We have never experienced anything like this before. We are currently helpless as we don’t know what to do right now as all the smaller rivers that are connected to the dam would soon dry up. The country might not get enough tomatoes to consume next year because we produce a large percentage of what the country needs,” Sani said.
The Tiga Dam which is a major reservoir of the Kano River, the main tributary of the Hadejia River was constructed in the early 70’s to improve food security through irrigation projects in the country.
The dam covers an area of 178 square kilometres with maximum capacity of about 2 million cubic meters.
“How can the ministry shut down a dam that provides irrigation to over 20,000 hectares of land used for farming tomatoes and other crops without properly notifying the farmers on time to make the necessary adjustments?” asked Abdulkarim Kaita, managing director , Dangote Tomato Processing Factory in a response to BusinessDay questions.
“If the farmers losses their crops, there would be scarcity of tomatoes next year and prices would double because the farmers there produces 35 percent of the country’s total tomato,” Kaita added.
AfricanFarmer Mogaji, chief executive officer, X-Ray Farms Limited, said that maintenance on dams are usually carried out during the dry season, stating that during raining season water levels in the dams are higher and the engineers would be unable to carry out their job.
“But the ministry should have informed the farmers two to three months before shutting down for them to source for alternatives and not wait until the farmers have planted their crops,” Mogaji said.
“I guess the ministry just got the money budgeted for it now and are quick to commence the maintenance because it is from the 2017 budget and the year is almost over, without considering those affected. This would definitely send the prices of tomatoes up next year and we might buy a basket for as high as N40, 000 because Kadawa produces a very large percentage of the tomatoes we consume in the country,” Mogaji further said.
Mogaji noted that the move by the ministry of water resources contradicts the Federal Governments recent tomato policy which is targeted at protecting local processors and boosting the production of the crop, while calling on government to provide alternatives for the affected farmers, stressing that the issue is still at its early stage.
Tomato demand in Nigeria is put at 2.2 million metric tons per annum, leaving a gap of 700,000 metric tons, according to official data from the Agricultural Ministry.
Efforts to reach the Ministry of Water Resources by BusinessDay were un-fruitful.
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