A scarcity of perishable food, Tomatoes, appears to be looming in Nigeria as farmers are currently battling Tuta Absoluta, also known as Tomato Ebola, which is currently ravaging tomato farms in parts of the country and causing farmers to record as much as N1.3 billion losses.
Tuta Absoluta is an insect which builds its home under the tomato leaves.
Vanguard reports that the Secretary-General, the chairman of the National Tomato Growers, Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria, Sani Danladi, disclosed this at an event recently held in Abuja. He lamented the huge losses over 500 farmers have incurred in Kano, while they are yet to know how many farmers are being affected in Katsina, Jigawa, Kaduna and Gombe.
“This ‘war’ is not only for the government and farmers but for all Nigerians. When Tuta Absoluta enters the farmer’s farm it destroys everything there within three days no matter how big or small it is. It is very devastating because it destroys all investment in the farm. Looking at the quantum of investing on one hectare of farmland to produce tomato it costs not less than N1.7 million. It is not a small amount of money farmers are losing every year of this disease manifests. It is not occuring early in the season but when temperature rises to high degrees and that is why some farmers are afraid in going into late transplanting of tomato. From January to March, tomato is very cheap in Nigeria but from April upward it becomes very scarce because farmers are afraid of doing late transplanting.
This year the devastation is very high because we had low production and the disease came and ravaged all produced by the farmers and that is why we have come out to cry and tell the government and Nigerians that on this issue we have to take a holistic approach to proffer solutions.
We have reported it to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, NABG and other stakeholders on how can we stop the spread of this disease because we are afraid it might spread to other States. This year more than 300 hectares have been destroyed by this disease which affected more than 500 farmers only in Kano State, but also affected farmers in Kaduna, Katsina, Jigawa and Gombe States, and we are still collecting the data from the remaining states, and that is why tomato is very scarce now.
Now 90 per cent of tomato in Kano has gone because of Tuta Absoluta devastation. It is different from caterpillars but this one is very devastating as you can’t eat it because is dangerous to human health.”he said