Tomato farmers in Dadi Louis community, an island in Iworo, Olorunda Local Council Development Area (LCDA) in Badagry division of Lagos State, on Wednesday, revealed that they lost over N200 million to a strong wind that affected their farms.
According to them, they recorded the loss between March and June, this year.
The Chairman of the Itesiwaju Cooperative Multipurpose Society, the farmers’ co-operative society, Tiamiyu Afeez, made this known during an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Badagry.
Afeez said they had been producing tomatoes on the Island for over 20 years, planting on more than 35 acres of land.
“We always plant tomatoes in two seasons, that is from March to June is the first season and from July, August and September is another season in a year.
“At the beginning of the season, all of us borrowed over N100m from banks, and individuals to plant tomatoes on over 35 acres of land.
“Under normal circumstances, we pay back with half of the money collected; if you collect two million naira, you will pay back three million naira at the end of the season. So, we make N200 million every season, from which we settle our loans.
“In March, we started planting for the first season, but around May, the wind came and destroyed all we planted, for the season.
“The wind destroyed everything on our farms, and I can tell you that we lost over N200 million to that problem”, he said.
Afeez said many farmers had to sell their personal belongings and properties to remain in business.
“I had to sell my vehicle to be able to start planting this time around.
“We had to go back to banks and others we are owing to beg them to extend the time for repayment of our loans. They agreed because they knew what happened to us,” he said.
The chairman said that if they had not lost the season to the strong wind, the supply from the farm in Badagry would have reduced the shortfall from the north during the last Eld-el-Kabir festival.
He said the normal production from the area was enough to meet the demand of the state.
“We are appealing to the council chairman, Lagos State Government and the Federal Government to assist on ways to improve production.
“We need tractors on our farms. Presently, we use hoes, cutlasses and other simple implements, and this is affecting how much we can do.
“We also need funds from the government to carry out some activities as well”, he said
Azeez also called on the government to support them with seedlings.
“Also, it is not easy to get seedlings, in 2022, we were buying the seedlings for N16,000 from Agro-Tropics, but now it has increased to N37,000 and N38,000, this is more than double.
“Government should assist us to get these seedlings at cheaper prices so that we can produce more”, he said.
The chairman also called on the government to help them seamlessly transport their harvested tomatoes to the market.
Azeez said a non-governmental organisation (NGO) had been supporting the farmers on the island
“The NGO promised to execute a water project for us because the water we have here is too salty. They have brought the contractor and signed the agreement, promising to start work this week.
“Even, the NGO provided us with people that give us loans during the planting season.
“They brought off-takers- Captain Foods, Lagos and Sofia Foods in Ibadan, who buy our tomatoes regularly. They help us a lot “, he said.