By Neville Mesumbe
Two tomato farmers have reportedly committed suicide due to poor sales of their produce. The incidents happened in two localities: one in Bangangte in the West region and another in “Marche 8eme” in the Centre region.
According to the State broadcaster, the farmers took their lives because they were unable to recover the amount they took as loans to cultivate the tomatoes. An executive member of the Association of tomatoes dealers, Mr. Joseph Kana told CRTV that the deceased at “Marche 8eme” contracted a bank loan of 12 million FCA. “After sales, he had only 2 million FCFA in hand. So he chose to take away his life”, Mr Joseph said.
Mr. Joseph attributed the poor sales to increase in tomato cultivation in the nation. “Before the advent of COVID-19 pandemic, “Marche 8eme” used to receive about 50 trucks loaded with tomatoes daily. But today, about 150 to 180 trucks bring in tomatoes, causing the supply to be far more than the demand.”
One of the tomato dealers told CRTV that they are forced to hire vehicles to move from door to door, market to market to solicit consumers to buy at a giveaway price of FCFA 1,500 to FCFA 2,000 to encourage households to purchase them in bulk. This, he said, slows down the activities of retailers as many household bypass retailers to purchase directly from the wholesales dealers. The tomato dealers, according to the state broadcaster, are beckoning on the government to open borders so that they can sell their produce in lucrative markets such in Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Chad, Congo and Central African.