The Kano State chairman of Tomato Out Growers Association of Nigeria (TOGAN), Sani Danladi, has revealed that Tuta absoluta, one of the most devastating pests affecting tomato crops, has resurfaced in the state, destroying farms.
Mr Danladi disclosed this to PREMIUM TIMES in an interview on Thursday.
Tuta absoluta is a species of moth in the family of Gelechiidae. It is also known by the name tomato leaf miner or tomato Ebola.
It is well known as a serious pest of tomato crops in Europe and South America.
In 2016, Tuta absoluta ravaged many tomato farms across Nigeria which resulted in farmers losing over half of their anticipated harvest, whilst causing an astronomical increase in the tomato market price.
It was also reported that tomato farmers in Kano State alone lost over N2 billion to Tuta absoluta in 2016.
Six tomato producing States inclusive, Kano, Jigawa, Katsina, Gombe, Plateau and FCT were affected by the pest in 2017, according to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
According to Mr Danladi, “What we are experiencing much now is the disease of tuta absoluta. The return of the pest in April has destroyed farms.” He added that there is also a widespread stunting of tomatoes due to the excessive heat recorded.
“It’s almost every year, as far as the temperature rises above 38 degrees. Tomatoes hardly survive during that period,” he said.
“We even tried another variety to be able to see if it could fill the gap but unfortunately the variety could not withstand the temperature.”
Mr Danladi noted that tomato farmers in Kano also lost a lot at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. “Concerning this COVID-19, we really lost so much from the beginning, even if it’s from Kano alone.”
“We transplanted about 2500 hectares under the Anchor Borrowers Program (ABP) for this late transplanting, but, unfortunately, less than 10 per cent survived.
“If the 2500 hectares had survived, it (would have) definitely crash the price of tomato but, no matter how little it is, the price is going on every day,” he said.
He further stated that so many people transplanted under the Anchor Borrowers Programme, hence the price of tomato is not likely to escalate.
“We want to let the government know that farmers, most especially those under the ABP, who experienced this “tuta absoluta” problem have definitely lost a lot. So, we are seeking the government to give them a waiver for the loss.
“You know tomato is not something you can preserve on the farm, so if (it ripens), you harvest it and if you don’t harvest it, it will decay at the farm.”
Also speaking to PREMIUM TIMES, Saadi Ali, a Kano tomato farmer said all his effort to prevent the outbreak of the pest in his farm came to no avail.
“I first discovered Tuta absoluta on my farm in 2016 when I lost some huge amount of money. This year, another set of the pest infested my crops without me having much knowledge of the pest,” he said.