Wednesday January 23, 2019

A moth nicknamed as “Tomato Ebola” is destroying Nigeria’s tomatoes

A bucket of toms which was earlier 1.5$ now costs 7.5$. Price has rocketed up to 400%.

Tomato farms, Wikimedia commons

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.

Tomatoes getting affected, Wikimedia commons
Tomatoes getting affected. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

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.

Tomatoes production getting affected due to the moth, Wikimedia commons
Tomatoes production getting affected due to the moth. Image source: Wikimedia commons

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…”


-by Pritam

Pritam is pursuing engineering and is an intern at NewsGram. Twitter handle: @pritam_gogreen


Next Story

Access To Public Facilities Restricted To Over 27Mn Disabled People In Nigeria

In November, Nigeria’s disabled protested to the national assembly, demanding passage of the long-delayed bill.

FILE - Health official administers a polio vaccine to a child in Kawo Kano, Nigeria.VOA

In Nigeria, over 27 million disabled people live in obscurity, treated like second-class citizens, without access to public facilities. The Nigerian Disability Bill is meant to address these shortcomings. But, nearly two decades after it was initiated, the law has yet to be enacted.

Musa Muazu, 31, became disabled as a teenager when he suffered a fall that left him paralyzed. He relies on a wheelchair to get around.

Muazu is one of 27 million disabled Nigerians trying to lead a normal life.
But a lack of handicapped facilities means disabled people like Muazu struggle for access.

“Public infrastructures in Nigeria is another… let me call it a hell to persons with disabilities ranging from the school, you can imagine as a person with disabilities you’re going to lectures in a four-story building.. you can imagine you want to access probably a bank, hospital, places of worship, there’s no provision for ramp for you to come in,” he said.

disability, Nigeria
In Burkina Faso, about 10 percent of the population is disabled. Some, like Laya, are helped by an operation, such as the removal of a cataract, but for others Light for the World, an international disability and development charity, helps in other ways, including community based rehabilitation, VOA

According to Nigeria’s Center for Citizens with Disabilities, 98 percent of public structures and facilities are not handicapped accessible.

At a community for the disabled in Abuja, thousands of handicapped Nigerians live virtually segregated from the rest of society.

Since 1999, Nigeria’s disabled have been seeking a law ensuring access to public buildings, roads, and sidewalks and protection against discrimination.

But their efforts to push for the Disabled Bill have been met with resistance.

Nigeria’s disabled account for a third of the 87 million people living in extreme poverty. On the streets of Abuja, many are reduced to begging.

They accuse the government of willful neglect and exclusion – a charge authorities deny.

disability, Nigeria
A person with disability, VOA

“The law of other people that are abled are being passed,” noted Mohammed Dantani, secretary of the Disabled People’s Community. “Are we not Nigerians? We’re also citizens, our number 27 million reached the number that when we pass a motion, it’s supposed to be listened to or heard.”

Also Read: Early Diagnosis and Treatment Can Prevent Disability from Leprosy

In November, Nigeria’s disabled protested to the national assembly, demanding passage of the long-delayed bill.

Lawmakers responded in December by finally passing the bill – to President Muhammadu Buhari.

In 2014, then candidate Buhari promised to sign the bill if elected. But as Nigeria heads to elections once again in February, that promise has yet to be fulfilled. (VOA)