Infestation, hot weather fueling Tomato price hike – Farmers

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The Tomato Growers Association of Nigeria attributes the current rise in tomato prices to the widespread infestation of local farms by the ‘Tuta Absoluta’ pest.

This was stated by the president of the association in Kaduna State, Rabiu Zuntu, in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Thursday in Lagos.

Tuta absoluta, also known as Tomato Leaf Miner, is a species of moth in the Gelechiida pest family.

It is a serious pest that attacks tomatoes in Europe, Africa, western Asia and South and Central America, with larvae causing up to 100 per cent loss if not effectively controlled.

 

Zuntu noted that the hike in the price of tomatoes was due to a shortage of supply caused by the destruction of many farms by the Tuta Absoluta insect.

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 said.

Zuntu called on the government to help forestall the infestation by providing timely interventions to the farmers.

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 said

Another cause of this hike is the unusually hot temperature 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 said.

Two weeks ago, NAN reported that 25kg basket of tomatoes sold at N14,000 per crate and a 50kg sold at N28,000 to N30,000 per basket.

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