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Farmers blame tomato price hike, scarcity on pest, insecurity

By Our Correspondent

Association of Tomatoes Growers in Nigeria has attributed the current scarcity and hike in the cost of tomato produce to pest attacks and hot temperature.

Kaduna State chairman of the association, Rabiu Zuntun disclosed this to journalists in Kaduna on Thursday.

He identified the pests as ‘Tuta Absoluta,’ also known as Tomato Leaf Miner, a specie of moth in the Gelechiida pest family.

Zuntu said the hike in the price of tomato was due to shortage of supply caused by the destruction of many farms by the Tuta Absoluta insect including the hot temperature being experienced at this period of the year.

“This has made the demand for tomatoes higher than supply, hence the price hike. We presently have low yields in our farms. A lot of tomato farms have been destroyed by these insects due to the hot weather in the north.

“Tomato farms across Kaduna  and Katsina known regarded as the highest producers of tomato have been razed by these insects,”  he noted urging the federal government to help forestall the infestation by providing timely interventions to the helpless farmers.

“The pests usually attack tomato farms around April/May and during hot season. This is when the tomatoes are ready for harvest. High temperature attracts these insects.

“To address this infestation, we have received some interventions from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, but the intervention came late because most farmers have already lost their crops.

“If the interventions and chemicals came earlier, we would have been able to prevent the current situation,” he declared noting that if some tomato producing states in the North and Central Nigeria had received the pesticides earlier, there would not have been a price hike in the price of the produce.

Going further Zuntu said, “Another cause of this price hike is the unusual hot temperature we are experiencing this season. We would try everything we can next year to avoid the occurrence of this infestation,” he assured.

“A 50 kg basket of tomatoes currently sells up North from N80,000, while a crate of 25 kg sells from N40,000 to N50,000 depending on the size,” he said.


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