Nigeria - How heat wave, pest stir scarcity of tomato, losses

17.06.2024 101 views

The high heat waves recorded between February and April, coupled with new pest named, Sharon, may have been responsible for the scarcity and high cost of tomato, pepper, and bell pepper in the country, findings by The Guardian have revealed.

A tomato farmer from Kano State, Salisu Mohammed, lamented how he lost over N2.7 million.

He said initially, farmers were dealing with heat waves that were destroying their tomato farms, but after a while, they noticed the vegetable crop was being destroyed at a larger scale.

He stated: "Initially, we didn't know what it was, because we have never experienced such devastation before, we had to consider the new disease, Sharron, because once it enters a farm, it travels so very fast, it can infect kilometres of farms in one day.

"Once the pest enters a farm, you will notice the tomato will turn black and after some time, it dries up and dies, it's very terrible. I lost about N2.7 million this year alone."

He disclosed that prices of tomato and other vegetables are high because farms that produce about 10 trucks of tomato before could hardly produce half trucks of trailer, adding that the few lucky farmers that were able to get some yield were the ones hiking the price to make up for their loss.

Asked if the rise in price of the crops has anything to do with Tuta Absoluta, (another type of known disease that have always plagued tomatoes), Salisu responded in the negative noting that that they have been able to discover a new pesticide imported from China to combat the disease.

He, however, lamented that the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security is not in tune with challenges facing farmers, stating that planters in the state have not received any support whatsoever from government.

The ministry, in a statement signed by the minister, Abubakar Kyari, said: "A significant number of our tomato farms have been affected by a severe infestation known as Tomato Ebola or Tomato Leaf Miner. This has drastically reduced the availability of tomatoes and contributed to rising costs.

"Our ministry is taking immediate action to combat this issue. We are deploying agricultural experts to affected areas to contain and eliminate the infestation. Additionally, we are supporting our farmers with the necessary resources and guidance to recover their crops as quickly as possible, just as we instituted the Ginger Blight Control Taskforce."

The statement continued: "We understand the impact this has on your daily lives and are working tirelessly to resolve the situation and restore the supply of affordable tomatoes. Thank you for your patience and understanding during this challenging time."

Source - https://guardian.ng

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