A state in Northern Nigeria has yesterday, declared a state of emergency after the Federal Government said a certain pest, ‘Tuta absoluta’, popularly known as ‘Tomato Ebola’ is responsible for the massive destruction of tomato in farmlands. The Ebola has been said to invade places such as Jigawa, Kano, Katsina, Kaduna, Plateau and Lagos state.
Despite the price inflation on petrol and tomato, the moth has thereby added to the hardship experienced by citizens of Nigeria. However, Nigerian farmers have voiced out fear over the moth while social media users have continued to express displeasure over the inability to prepare ‘jollof rice’ and make stews’ which has since independence, been Nigeria’s special delicacy.
“We have declared a state of emergency over the outbreak of a moth that has destroyed over 80% of tomato farms in the state, the tomato shortage caused by the outbreak has caused prices to go up astronomically. A wholesale basket containing hundreds of tomatoes now sells for 42,000 naira ($212), up from 300 ($1.50) to 1,500 naira ($7.50) before the outbreak” said the Kaduna state agriculture commissioner, Manzo Daniel.
“This is only the beginning of a disaster if we don’t take drastic measures because the disease is fast spreading across the north. More than 200 tomato farmers in the region have already suffered losses of more than 1bn naira ($5.02m) from the disease. Experts have been sent to Kenya to develop a strategy to combat the brown moth, which lays eggs on tomato plants and develops into a hungry caterpillar that feeds on the leaves, stems and fruit” he further stated
More than 90% of 17,000 hectares (42,000 acres) of tomato fields outside the northern city of Kano have been destroyed by the insect, according to the state’s agriculture officials.
A $200m tomato processing factory built by Nigerian billionaire Aliko Dangote has been forced to shut down because of the shortfall in supply, its managing director, Abdulkareem Kaita, said.
Tuta absoluta, which originated in South America and has spread to Europe and Africa, quickly develops resistance to pesticides, making it difficult to contain.