Fruit sellers in Lagos on Friday appealed to the Federal Government to evolve a system that would encourage a reliable and profitable value chain for fruits and vegetables in Nigeria.
The traders told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos that it was difficult for them to break even in the business because of the perishable nature of the fruits and vegetables.
According to them, their investment in the business is not yielding good returns due to inadequate preservation equipment.
NAN reports that prices of fruits have dropped as there is glut in major markets in Lagos and its environs.
Mr Adewale Adegbola, the Vice-Chairman of Igbeyinadun-Kajola Fruit Market, Idi-Oro, Mushin, attested to this, saying that fruit sellers often record losses during harvest period.
According to him, unsold fruits get ripe and rotten quickly due to improper preservation.
“We are usually forced to sell our produce below profitable margin because we lack the facilities to preserve the fruits.
“We often receive more than enough consignments of fruits from Ondo State, Edo and some states in the northern part of the country between September and April.
“The supply is usually more than the demand, thereby making the excess fruits to get rotten.
“This often leads to fruit sellers incurring losses,’’ he said.
According to Adegbola, a truck-load of plantain with six coaches, now sells for N60,000 as against the usual N100,000.
Similarly, the price of 10 coaches of plantain has come down to N100,000 from N150,000.
In her contribution, Mrs Nimota Adeagbo, the Public Relations Officer of the Fruit Sellers Association, Agboju Market, Festac Town, told NAN that fruit sellers often incurred about 70 per cent losses during peak of fruit season.
“We are often compelled to sell a large basket of oranges between N2,000 and N2,500 instead of between N5,000 and N7,000.
“The fear of not being able to preserve the fruits often make us to sell them cheap, without profit,’’ she said.
Mrs Idiat Fashola, the Iyaloja of Ketu Fruit Market, appealed to the Federal Government to sensitise food and beverage manufacturers to patronise local farmers and fruit vendors for fruits supply.
“It is disheartening that some beverage companies, manufacturing fruit juice prefer to import fruits from neighbouring countries.
“There is nothing special about these imported fruits. The major problem is the mentality of classifying our local fruits as being inferior to the imported ones,’’ she said.
Fashola also condemned the activities of large stores and supermarkets, who import fruits and vegetables for sales in the country.
He described their attitude as being counter-productive to the nation’s economy.
“We cannot think of exporting our farm produce when our fruits have yet to become fully accepted in the Nigerian market,’’ she said.