Nigeria is known for its top class tomatoes. Tasty and juicy tomatoes are part of nearly every dish in Nigeria. A state government in Nigeria has declared a state of emergency due to the substantial destruction of tomato fields by moths.
Nigerian farmers have termed the outbreak as ‘Tomato Ebola’. Tomato is a central ingredient in Nigerian dishes. The scarcity of tomatoes will simply mean now they can’t afford their beloved toms. Nigerians won’t be able to make their favorite jollof rice (a national dish made with tomato paste). Such is the scarcity of tomatoes in the country. Inflation rates are growing and Africa’s economy is getting affected as a result of the moth named Tuta absolute was also known as Tomato Leaf Miner.
The moth attacks the leaves of the tomato plant and the larvae produced by the moth feed on the plants causing a total loss of yield. No pesticides are able to kill the larvae. After 3 hours of spraying, they again come back to life.
Northwest and central regions have been affected the most. Kaduna (also called the tomato capital of Nigeria) is in a state of emergency. Manzo Daniel (the Kaduna state agriculture commissioner) said “We have declared a state of emergency over the outbreak of a moth that has destroyed over 80% of tomato farms in the state. More than 200 tomato farmers in the region have suffered losses of more than 1bn naira ($5.02m) from the disease.” A bucket of toms which was earlier 1.5$ now costs 7.5$. Price has rocketed up to 400%.
Nigeria’s federal agriculture minister has reported that the moth has spread to at least 6 states and is posing a threat to national food security. He also warned that the moth can attack potato and pepper plants.
Governors and commissioners of states are jointly working to get rid of this situation. Kenya has a good advantage on this issue. They use some plant extract to take care of the moth. Since Nigerian experts don’t have the knowledge yet so they are looking forward to Kenya to eradicate this tomato menace. The agricultural specialists are working with Kenya experts to find a proper solution.
The heat is on even on social platforms. On Social networking, sites such as Twitter people are tweeting humorous posts about Spanish La Tomatina festival where tons of tomatoes are wasted. Some even tweeted “La Tomatina@ Tomatoes throwing party in Spain. If only these guys know the price of Tomatoes in Nigeria today…”
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Pritam is pursuing engineering and is an intern at NewsGram. Twitter handle: @pritam_gogreen