Despite the increasing scarcity of fresh tomatoes in Nigeria, there are indications that the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) might ban the importation of tomato paste from China. This is following a startling revelation from a research carried out by the Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (FSAN) office of the agency.
The minimum requirement specified by the Codex Alimentarius Standards and Nigerian Industrial Standards is that tomato pastes should have at least 28% tomato content while other ingredients should make up the remaining 72%. However, according to Sahara reporters, the canned tomato pastes which are imported from China, fall below the required standard.
The FSAN research revealed that out of 316 packs of tomato pastes purchased in Lagos and tested, 218 of them had less than the minimum requirement (28%) of the pulpy fruit in them. The research also accused tomato paste companies of working with Chinese companies to sell unwholesome products to Nigerians. Some of these products were seized and destroyed in Onitsha market, Anambra State.
While other countries bask in the abundance of tomatoes this rainy season, Nigerians live in lack. The joke now is that tomatoes are more expensive than apples which used to be seen as pricey. One ball of apple sells for approximately N60, while five pieces of tomatoes of a smaller size goes for nothing less than N500 in the cheapest market, meaning one ball is equivalent to N100.
Meanwhile, fee days back, someone posted a picture of four tomatoes sold at a shopping mall in Abuja for N1881. This simply implies that a ball of the vegetable cost N470. Just last year, the same pack was sold for around N300.