The Federal Government on Tuesday revealed the cause of tomato
scarcity in the country as it said the pest, Tuta absoluta, popularly
known as ‘Tomato Ebola’, is responsible for the massive destruction of
tomato in farmlands in Nigeria. The destructive pest has so far invaded
six states in Nigeria.
Speaking on the issue, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural
Development, Mr. Audu Ogbeh, revealed that the highly reproductive
nature of the tomato pest and lack of management knowledge for
containment allowed it to spread which led to the destruction of tomato
fruits in Jigawa, Kano, Katsina, Kaduna, Plateau and Lagos.
He also stated that the government is already consulting with experts in other find a way out.
He said, “The pest can also attack even pepper and Irish potato.
So we are confronting something quite serious. But the good thing is
that we are tackling it right now as experts will commence work
immediately. We are bringing the commissioners and governors of states
to jointly attack this pest, which, if not dealt with, will create
serious problems for food security in our country.”
Also, the minister revealed that Nigeria spent huge sums importing substandard tomato paste which affected many in Nigeria.
“We have two processing plants for tomato paste in
Nigeria, Erisco and Dangote, and their capacities are huge. We welcome
their arrival because our annual import bill of tomato paste is about
$400m and it is a good sign that we can now produce here and make money
for our farmers.” he said.
Reacting to the recent development, CropLife International, a group
of agro-professionals, advocated the use of hazard-based approach rather
than a risk-based methodology.
The group also called for the promotion and adoption of relevant biotechnologies in farming activities.