Tuta Absoluta: Tomatoes Price May Rise As Disease Attacks Crops

Follow Us On Social Media

TomatoesFarmers have predicted an imminent hike in the price of fresh tomatoes due to the outbreak of a deadly disease called tuta absoluta.

Speaking under the aegis of the National Tomato Growers, Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria, the farmers said the disease had affected 300 hectares of crops leading to the loss of billions of naira in investments by over  500 farmers in the 2023 planting season.

At a press briefing on Tuesday in Abuja, the National Secretary of the association, Sani Danladi, said the loss of yields would lead to scarcity and an increase in the price of tomatoes, a daily vegetable staple for most Nigerian families.

The tuta absoluta, moth family specie is a destructive pest that caused a national disruption to the tomato value chain in 2015, subsequently leading to a loss of over N2bn for farmers in Kano State alone.

He explained that the pests, also known as tomato ebola, are voracious eaters and could destroy hectares of tomato farms within 72 hours.

He noted that the latest outbreak of the pest has affected some of the high-producing states for tomatoes including Kano, Kaduna, Jigawa, Gombe and Kastina states.

He said, “We also want to inform Nigerians that this year, we have had low production of tomatoes and the little we planted has been destroyed by the pest. We are crying out to Nigerians, as we have to take a holistic approach to resolve this issue. We have to stop the spreading of these diseases. Currently, more than 300 hectares have been destroyed, affecting 500 farmers in Kano State only.

“It is spreading to Kaduna, Katsina, Gombe, and Jigawa and that is why tomatoes are scarce now.”

Explaining some of the damages, the national secretary said 90 per cent of the produce in Kano State with an estimated cost of N1.5bn had been destroyed, adding that an aggravated outbreak would threaten food security in the country.

Speaking further, the President of the Nigeria Agriculture Business Group, Emmanuel Ijewere, lamented the slow response to curb the pest when it was reported about a month ago.

He stated, “12 states in the North produce 85 per cent of tomatoes in Nigeria and five of them are badly affected right now. Kaduna, our biggest producer, Kano and Gombe have been badly affected. It is difficult to give figures but there will be a shortage of tomatoes and it will surely affect the price this year because the damage has been extensive”

Meanwhile, a Director at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Deola Lordbanjou, however, called for calm, saying the ministry was doing everything in its power to control the situation.

He said, “A stakeholder meeting has been called. The Federal Government is intervening to nip it in the bud so it doesn’t lead to more devastating losses for our farmers.

“The ministry rose to the occasion to see how we can tackle the re-emergence of the disease. We are seriously worried and a stakeholders meeting has been called because we can’t allow this pest to destroy our farmland again.”

Follow Us On Social Media