Farmers Reveal That A Heat Wave And Infestation Are Leading To An Increase In Tomato Prices

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Recently, The Tomato Growers Association of Nigeria has attributed the recent surge in tomato prices to the widespread infestation of local farms by the Tuta Absoluta pest, leading to a severe scarcity.

According to Mr. Rabiu Zuntu, the association’s Kaduna State chairman, the pest has caused significant damage to many farms, resulting in a substantial supply shortage and subsequent price increase.

This development was shared during an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos on Thursday.

The Tuta Absoluta, also known as the Tomato Leaf Miner, is a highly destructive moth species that has been affecting tomato crops globally, with the potential to cause up to 100% loss if not effectively managed.

He elaborated, “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 (the highest producers of tomato) have been razed by these insects.”

The chairman urged the government to take prompt action to prevent the spread of the infestation by providing timely support and resources to farmers, enabling them to combat the pest effectively and mitigate its devastating impact on tomato crops.

“The pests usually attack tomato farms around April/May and during the 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 stated.

According to Zuntu, if certain tomato-producing states in North and Central Nigeria had received the necessary pesticides in a timely manner, the price increase could have been avoided, as the infestation would have been controlled earlier, preventing the subsequent supply shortage and price surge.

He pointed out, “Another cause of this hike is the unusually hot temperature (heat wave) we are experiencing this season. We try everything we can next year to avoid the occurrence of this infestation.

“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 revealed.

The price of tomatoes has increased due to the Tuta Absoluta insect infestation, which has caused a shortage of supply. Two weeks ago, a 25kg basket of tomatoes cost N14,000 per crate, while a 50kg basket cost between N28,000 and N30,000. The demand for tomatoes is currently higher than the supply, resulting in a price hike.

 

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