Wednesday, May 25

‘Tomato Ebola’ hits six states in Nigeria

‘Tomato Ebola’ hits six states in Nigeria

The Federal Government on Tuesday disclosed that the pest, Tuta absoluta, popularly known as ‘Tomato Ebola’, which is responsible for the massive destruction of tomato in farmlands, had invaded six states in Nigeria.

The FG also revealed that Nigeria spent about N80bn ($400m) annually importing tomato paste, adding that many of the imported products were substandard.

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr. Audu Ogbeh, who made this disclosure during a press briefing in Abuja, said that the report that tomato processing factories had mopped-up tomato fruits in Nigeria was unfounded and untrue.

The affected states include Jigawa, Kano, Katsina, Kaduna, Plateau and Lagos.

He said, “The pest can also attack even pepper and Irish potato. So, we are confronting something quite serious. But the good thing is that we are tackling it right now as experts will commence work immediately. We are bringing the commissioners and governors of states to jointly attack this pest, which, if not dealt with, will create serious problems for food security in our country.”

He stated that the experts had, however, offered some varieties of tomato that grow well in the western part of the country as alternatives.

On the amount spent on importing tomato paste, the minister said, “We have two processing plants for tomato paste in Nigeria, Erisco and Dangote, and their capacities are huge.

“We welcome their arrival because our annual import bill of tomato paste is about $400m and it is a good sign that we can now produce here and make money for our farmers.”

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