Why Tomato Scarcity should be a Blessing in Nigeria

Tomato scarcity

It has been some months since tomato became gold in Nigeria. It has become gold purely because the price has gone up by 200 percent or more in some cases.

Tomato is an important staple in most Nigerian homes, and is mostly used to prepare Stews (Beef stew, Chicken Stew, etc.) which accompanies other cooked food. For working mums like myself, cooking a batch of stew on weekends and freezing (where electricity is constant) makes meal times on week days, less stressful. Stew goes well with foods like rice, beans, yam, spaghetti, you name it. What is fried eggs without some sliced tomatoes? Aaaaaah! don't forget jollof rice o! Then our Yoruba neighbours from western Nigeria, use tomato as the base for most soups like: efo riro, efo ele-guisi, obe ata, etc. So you get my point about the importance of tomato in a Nigerian home.

Before the tomato scarcity, 5 pieces of tomato were sold for 200 naira or less, depending on your location. But these days, it is sold for a minimum of 500 naira for the same 5 pieces of tomatoes. The first day I observed the price hike was on a sunday a few months ago. It was a lazy sunday and as i told Iya Ibeji to pack the quantity i wanted, she quickly told me "aunty na 500, 500 naira o". I did a double take and instead of over thinking it, i walked straight to the vegetable seller and made a pot of vegetable soup at a cheaper price.

Tomato scarcity in Nigeria
Tomato -Nigeria's Gold

Nigerians have been lamenting the price o and even my hubby thinks the Minister of Agriculture needs to address the nation on this scarcity. Lol. It is that serious.

But I want to tell you why tomato scarcity in Nigeria should be a blessing in disguise.


Yes, tomato stew is so delicious. Yes, tomato makes tasty meals. But it has become a habit and habits are meant to be broken. This is the perfect opportunity to take a break from eating the same kind of meals.
Nigeria is so rich in foods and i have written about other alternatives to eating rice daily. See this time as a food adventure and explore other recipes. Have you tried eating rice with something other than stew? You should try using edikang ikong soup, ofe akwu, banga soup, eguisi soup, curry, stir fry,etc. The result is delicious and surprising.
Tomato Scarcity in Nigeria
Ofe Akwu

I have come up with different sauces to eat boiled potatoes. My sharp-sharp chicken veggie sauce takes less than half the time it takes me to make chicken stew and the taste is wonderful. It goes well with everything except 'swallows' like eba, semo, pounded yam. I've seen some people take this innovation to the extreme by making stew with different types of peppers only. This is a no for me, except, i'm eating ofada stew. Innovation should not be at the expense of nutrients.
Tomatoes are rich in nutrients. They contain Lycopene which is great for healthy skin. But you can still get this nutrient in carrots, sweet red peppers, watermelon, guavas, etc. Tomatoes are also rich in calcium and contain Vitamins A and C, which are great anti-oxidants. You can get these nutrients from other food items as well. In fact, this scarcity helps me eat healthier. I fill up on more vegetables which are rich in fibre and help you feel fuller. 
I am always looking for how to make savings. It was only common sense to spend less to make a pot of vegetable soup  instead of spending three times over to make a small pot of stew. See this scarcity as a time to save money, exploring other cheaper meals. I made Ofe Akwu (Palm Nut soup with vegetables), yesterday for lunch and i did not break the bank. This experience will teach you how to cope in a drought.

Do you have other lessons you have learnt from this tomato scarcity? What are the new recipes you invented to save money? Please share so we can all learn.


  1. Well said, Chinelo! There are many other food items that should be valued in times like this. Tomato stew is precious but without tomatoes life will still go on.

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    1. Thanks Precious. Life does go on tomato or no tomato

  2. true@ precious, tomato or no tomato life goes on

  3. So true. It made my mum show her creativity. We've been eating anything beans, moi moi, Akara, gbegiri (beans soup)

    1. You see, and it's not so bad having these different dishes for a change

  4. weldone Nelo for the new suggested alternatives. Keep up the good job you are doing. Cheers!

  5. Replies
    1. Aaaaaaww! wish i could send some across to you. Still have a bowl of ofe akwu from last sunday in the freezer. Its my bestest!!!

  6. I agree that there should be more variety of choices for food. Yes the prices are now outrageous but if it encourages trying different foods and options, plus great alternatives then it is a plus point and hopefully others will be encouraged to try the same.

  7. Hi Chinelo,

    An excellent post! I like how scarcity influences people to be more creative in figuring out alternatives.

    Yes, curry sauce is a delicious alternative for tomato stew and it tastes great with rice.

    Garden egg sauce is another nice substitute for stew, goes well with yam. and is packed full of nutrients. :-)

    1. Thanks Nedoux.

      i love Garden egg sauce with yam or potatoes. They are yummy

  8. Aw, this was an exceptionally nice post. Finding the time and actual effort to produce a very good article… but what can I say… I procrastinate a whole lot and never seem to get anything done. facebook login facebook login


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