Prof. Alex Akpa, Director-General of NABDA Photo: RDWatch

Nigerians to expect high-yielding tomato hybrid with long shelf life in 1 year, NABDA assures

*About 30 to 45 percent of tomatoes are lost in transit from North to Southern Nigeria, says Prof. Alex Akpa, NABDA Director-General 

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

In view of the perennial losses incurred by farmers, traders and consumers in Nigeria due to perishable nature of tomatoes, the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) says it is obligated to come up with a hybrid tomato project.

Prof. Alex Akpa, Director-General of NABDA, said that within a year, consumers should expect high-yielding tomato hybrid with long shelf life in the Nigerian markets.

ConsumerConnect gathered that Akpa, who stated this in a recent press interview in Abuja, FCT, disclosed that the losses incurred by farmers, traders and consumers due to how perishable tomatoes are have forced the agency to come up with the hybrid tomato project.

He said: “We bring in the hybrids with no characteristics and then back-cross it with our local varieties.’’

The Director-General of NABDA said when the project is accomplished, it would still produce indigenous hybrid tomatoes, not only with long shelf life but also high-yielding.

Akpa said: “That’s what we are working on now; we already have the hybrid seeds and will start the back-cross in the next few weeks.

“So, within 12 months we should be able to have high-yielding long shelf life hybrid tomatoes in the market.’’

He also explained that their long shelf life of tomato project were of two versions. The first, he stated, is the fully genetically-modified tomatoes of which their scientists are currently in their laboratory collecting varieties from all over the country for analysis.

According to him, the fully genetically-modified tomatoes project would take up to two years or more.

That is why the agency has opted for the quicker second version of tomato hybrid, he said, adding that the need for long tomatoes shelf life could not overemphasised.

He added: “The importance of this project as we all know, is that most of the tomatoes consumed in this country come from the Northern states but mostly consumed in the South.’’

Among other states are Kano, Kaduna, Katsina and Gombe that cultivate and massively produce tomatoes all-year-round facilitated by irrigation, he disclosed.

“Due to its perishable nature, about 30 to 45 percent are lost in transit because by the time they are moved from the north to south, the degree of loss is usually massive,’’ Akpa said.

The NABDA Director-General gave assurance that the variety the agency is coming up with is one that would be moved from the Northern to the Southern states with just negligible losses of about three, five percent.

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