The Federal Government of Nigeria yesterday revealed that the pest Tuta absoluta, responsible for the massive destruction of tomato on farmlands has hit a total of six states in Nigeria.
During the revelation, the Federal Government also noted that a total of $400 million is spent annually by the nation in importing substandard tomato paste.
Declaring the scourge and the economic implications of the pest, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr. Audu Ogbeh 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.”
Mr Audu Ogbe during the press statement also noted and discarded speculations that the establishment of tomato processing plants had mopped up the tomato fruits thereby causing its scarcity.
He reveled that one of the major disadvantages of the pest was its high reproductive rate which enables it grow a large population in a short period and cause more damage to the tomato fruits on the farmland. He noted the pest to have affected Jigawa, Kano, Katsina, Kaduna, Plateau and Lagos.
Ogbeh however noted that the Federal government has been in talks with experts on how best to tackle the development adding that the experts had proffered some possible solution and offered some varieties of resistant tomatoes which will grow well in the western region of the country as an alternative measure.