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FG: Tomato ‘Ebola’ ravaging farms in Kano, Kaduna, Katsina, Gombe

The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Horti Nigeria, and Nigeria AgriBusiness Group (NABG) have collaborated to combat the recent tomato disease (known as tuta absoluta) outbreak in the country.

Tuta absoluta, also known as ‘tomato Ebola’, has affected states like Kano, Kaduna, Katsina and Gombe.

The stakeholders disclosed this at a news conference on Tuesday in Abuja, initiated by Hoti Nigeria and supported by the Netherlands.

Emmanuel Ijewere, NABG president, said tuta absoluta are insects that ravage tomato farms.

“The insects have decided to build their homes under the leaves, and when insecticide is sprayed, it doesn’t affect them. The affected states are mainly Kano, Kaduna, Katsina and Gombe states, but the insects don’t need a visa to go to any other state as far as the conditions are right,” Mr Ijewere explained.

The NABG president added, “We are glad to have the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development here, and we are working together to solve this problem. It is ‘war’ we are going to declare against these insects, and all of us here will be providing the ‘weapons’ to achieve it.”

Deola LordBanjor, director of horticulture at the ministry, said the current crisis with tuta absoluta started from a local government (Galama) in Kano.

“When it was reported, we started our investigation, and we found out that about 300 hectares in that local government alone were affected by this infestation,” said Mr LordBanjor.

The farmers in Galama might have lost about N1.3 billion economically due to the infestation of the disease, the ministry official said.

“We are working in collaboration with the Tomato Growers, Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria (NAPTAN) every time and investigating what is happening in other states,” Mr LordBanjor disclosed. “We have our records already and we are working on two things; the ministry is convening a stakeholders’ meeting, which may be merged with what NABG is planning.”

He revealed that the ministry was sourcing funds “seriously and interventions to solve critical problems of tuta absoluta.”

Mohammed Attanda, executive director of the National Horticultural Research Institute (NIHORT), said the agency conducted a Hausa radio phone-in programme to create awareness on the mode of damage caused by the disease.

He urged the agric ministry to incorporate NIHORT sustainable tuta integrated management package for tomato production in the national tomato policy to stem the tide of the disease.


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