Some housewives in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja expressed their concerns about the skyrocketing cost of tomatoes and how it has influenced their cooking choices.

In an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), residents shared their alternative options for stews and sauces, opting to replace tomatoes with garden egg plants and carrots.

According to one resident, “Garden egg, called ganyen gauta in Hausa, igba in Yoruba, and anyara in Igbo, can blend very well with rice just like tomatoes.” Others mentioned experimenting with pumpkin, pawpaw, or traditional soups such as white soup and palm fruit soup, commonly known as banga soup, as substitutes for tomato stew.

Mrs. Jumai Amodu, a mother of five, expressed how a week without rice and tomato stew feels unsatisfying for her and her family. She stated, “Rice with stew is a regular item on our menu, and there is an unexplainable satisfaction that comes with having cooked rice and stew.” However, due to the scarcity and high cost of tomatoes, her family has turned to garden egg stew.

Amodu explained, “Since tomatoes became very expensive, we decided to use garden egg for stew, and it tastes just as good as tomato stew. The only major difference is the color. We also sometimes use pumpkin stew with rice, and although it has its unique taste, it blends well.”

Mrs. Helen Omo, a businesswoman, acknowledged the importance of tomato stew in Nigerian households but highlighted how its scarcity has led people to consider alternatives. She shared her experience of visiting the market, saying, “I went to the market yesterday to buy some tomatoes for stew, and a sizable bushel, which used to cost between N2000 and N2500, was being sold for as much as N6500. I didn’t bother negotiating the price because it was way beyond my budget.”

Mr. Chinedu, an entrepreneur, revealed his preference for rice with peppersoup or white soup. He commented on the rising prices of food items, including tomatoes, and the need to explore other recipes, saying, “The prices of all foodstuff have gone up, but tomatoes are outrageously expensive, probably because it is off-season.

Besides being expensive, it is very scarce, so we decided to try out other options.”Umar Adamu, a tomatoes retailer in Nyanya market in the FCT, mentioned that he had stopped selling tomatoes due to low patronage. He stated, “Customers are not buying because of the high cost.”

Mrs. Rukkaya Umar, the Chief Executive Officer of Abraks Farm Produce Nigeria Limited, attributed the scarcity of tomatoes to the high cost of fertilizer. She explained that many tomato farmers are unable to afford fertilizer, which is crucial for tomato growth. Additionally, she highlighted that reliance on seasonal farming contributes to the scarcity, as it is currently the off-season for tomatoes.

NAN reports that the price of a sizeable basket of tomatoes, which previously sold for around N10,000, now costs approximately N35,000, with bigger baskets priced even higher.

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