Kaduna State Declares State of Emergency Over ‘Tomato Ebola’ – The Kaduna state government has declared a state of emergency over the dwindling supplies of tomato.
An infestation of the Tuta absoluta moth has destroyed tomato fields across the country, causing a meteoric rise in the price of tomatoes across the country, with a basket of tomato reportedly rising as high as N42,500 from N1,500.
It has also affected large scale processing factories, with a factory owned by billionaire Aliko Dangote recently closing down due to a lack in supply.
“We have declared a state of emergency over the outbreak of a moth that has destroyed over 80% of tomato farms in the state,” the Kaduna state agriculture commissioner, Manzo Daniel, told AFP. “This is only the beginning of a disaster if we don’t take drastic measures because the disease is fast spreading across the north,” he warned.
Tomato is widely used in Nigeria, used in making a variety of soups and stews, as well as the popular Jollof rice. Over N1 billion has reportedly been lost due to the moths according to Daniel, with farmers having nicknamed the situation ‘Tomato Ebola’, in reference to the Ebola virus which cut through West Africa like a plague.
The Tuta absoluta moth lays it eggs on tomato plants. A very hungry caterpillar develops from the eggs, and feasts on the leaves, stems and fruits of the tomato plant.