Some housewives in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja on Sunday said they have ditched tomatoes for their stews and other sauces as cost skyrockets.
The residents, who made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria, said they have resorted to using garden eggplants and carrots in their stews.
They said garden egg, called “ganyen gauta” in Hausa, “igba” in Yoruba, and “anyara” in Igbo, could blend very well with rice in the same manner as tomatoes.
Others said they were exploring pumpkin, pawpaw, or traditional soups like white soup and palm fruit soup popularly called banga soup in place of tomato stew.
Mrs Jumai Amodu, a mother of five, said a week without rice with tomato stew was unfulfilling for her and the family.
She said rice with stew was a regular on their menu, adding that “there is an unexplainable satisfaction that comes with taking cooked rice and stew.”
The mother of five, however, said with the scarcity and high cost of tomatoes, her family was exploring garden egg stew.
Amodu said, “Since tomatoes became very expensive, we decided to use garden egg for stew and it is as sweet as tomato stew.
“The only major difference between garden egg stew and tomato stew is the colour.
“We also use pumpkin stew with rice sometimes and although it has its unique taste, it blends well with rice.”
Mrs Helen Omo, a businesswoman, said although tomato stew was an important recipe in almost all homes in Nigeria, its scarcity had made some Nigerians think of alternatives.
“I went to the market yesterday to get some tomatoes for stew and a sizeable bushel, which costs between N2000 and N2500 was being sold for as much as N6500.
“I did not bother to haggle the price because it was way beyond my budget,” she said.
Mr Chinedu, an entrepreneur, told NAN that he enjoyed taking rice with pepper soup or white soup.
“The prices of all foodstuff have gone up but that of tomatoes is outrageous probably because it is tomatoes off-season.
“Besides being expensive, it is very scarce and as a result, we decided to explore other recipes,” he said.
Umar Adamu, a tomatoes retailer in Nyanya market in the FCT, said he had stopped retailing tomatoes for some days due to low patronage.
He said customers were not “patronising him because of the high cost.”
Mrs Rukkaya Umar, Chief Executive Officer, Abraks Farm Produce Nigeria Limited said the primary reason for the scarcity of tomatoes was the high cost of fertiliser.
According to her, many tomato farmers do not grow it because they cannot afford fertiliser, adding that fertiliser was critical to its growth.
Umar also said reliance on seasonal farming was one of the reasons for the scarcity, adding that it was tomatoes off-season.
“Most farmers in Nigeria still do seasonal farming and that is contributing greatly to scarcity of farm produce particularly in their off-seasons,” she said.
NAN reports that a sizeable basket of tomatoes which hitherto sold for about N10,000 now sells for about N35,000 while big baskets cost more.