During interviews, residents mentioned replacing tomatoes with eggplants and carrots. They noted that eggplants could be a suitable substitute for tomatoes when blended with rice.
Some women shared that they have been exploring alternatives such as pumpkins, pawpaw, and traditional soups like white, palm fruit, or banga soup instead of using tomato stew and sauce.
Jumai Amodu, a mother of five, expressed that going a week without rice and tomato stew feels unsatisfying for her and her family. She mentioned that rice with sauce is a regular dish on their menu, and a unique satisfaction comes from having cooked rice with stew.
However, due to the scarcity and high cost of tomatoes, Jumai’s family has used eggplant stew instead. She explained, “Since tomatoes became very expensive, we decided to use garden egg for stew, which is as tasty as tomato stew. The only significant difference between eggplant stew and tomato stew is the color. We also sometimes use pumpkin stew with rice, and although it has its distinct flavor, it complements rice well.”
Helen Omo, a businesswoman, stated that although tomato stew is a crucial recipe in most Nigerian households, its scarcity has forced people to consider alternatives. She shared her experience of visiting the market to buy tomatoes, where a decent-sized basket typically costs N2,000, and N2,500 was sold for as much as N6,500. The exorbitant price was beyond her budget, so she had to forgo purchasing them.
Chinedu, an entrepreneur, revealed that he enjoys eating rice with pepper soup or white soup as a substitute for tomato stew. He explained that all food items have risen, but tomatoes are particularly expensive due to being out of season. As a result, people have started exploring other recipes.
Umar Adamu, a tomato retailer at Nyanya market in the FCT, mentioned that he had temporarily stopped selling tomatoes due to low patronage. Customers were hesitant to buy due to the high cost.
Rukkaya Umar, the CEO of Abraks Farm Produce Nigeria Limited, attributed the tomato scarcity to the high fertilizer cost. She explained that many tomato farmers couldn’t afford fertilizer, which is crucial for tomato growth, leading to decreased tomato production. Additionally, the reliance on seasonal farming contributes to the scarcity of produce during off-seasons.
A sizable basket of tomatoes that used to sell for about N10,000 is now priced at around N35,000, with even higher costs for larger baskets.