Many Nigerians across the country are presently lamenting what they call an abnormal rise in the price of tomatoes across major markets in the country.
Findings revealed that the scarcity of the commodity has pushed the price high by nearly 100 percent.
Consumers said the situation impacted negatively on them coupled with the high cost of living being faced by citizens.
Hajiya Ramat Azeez Kikelomo, a resident of Garam, a Niger community bordering the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), said if the situation did not improve soon, it would greatly affect many households during Sallah celebration across the country next weekend.
In Kano State, one of the major tomato farmers attributed the early rise in the price of the commodity to a recent pest attack, known as tutaabsoluta, a dangerous pest affecting the crop.
A social media user Oma Charles said a rubber of tomato is 5k in Onitsha, adding that it is hard to get.
Another user said; “Please I don’t understand why tomato price suddenly increased! The matter don red o, chai! How much are they selling a basket/container in your area?”
Recall that there was over N1.5 billion worth of tomato plantations are said to have been destroyed by the recent attack of the pest in the state.
As a result of the attack on big tomato farms and how it spread across other farms in the various farming areas in the state, the product became scarce in the market, which forced up its price.
But experts said that aside the pest attack, every year by this time, the commodity is usually scarce as a result of the end of season and hot weather.
The experts, however, noted that the situation became worst this year because the seasonal scarcity was combined with pest attack, as well as low production in many farms in the producing states.
Meanwhile, the situation has led to a collaborative effort by Federal Government; Nigeria Agribusiness Group, NABG; Hort Nigeria; Nigerian Horticultural Research Institute, NIHORT; Sygenta; International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, IITA, and others to tackle the dosease.
They raised the alarm over Tomato Ebola at a briefing by Horti Nigeria, supported by the Netherlands, adding that the ravaging insects were ruining huge investments of farmers in Kano, Kaduna, Katsina and Gombe States.
The President, NABG, Emmanuel Ijewere, said stakeholders have resolved, therefore declared total ‘War’ on the invading insects.
Ijewere pointed out that the worrisome development cannot be left alone for the farmers as NABG was organising a stakeholders’ meeting to address the challenge, because it is the farmers who are the major sufferers and not even the processors, in the sense that they have invested heavily on their farms for tomato production.
He said: “Tuta Absoluta is an insect that has ravaged tomato farms and from what we have discovered, the insect is very devastating to the tomato and is so smart.
“The insects have decided to build their homes under the leaves and when the insecticide is sprayed it doesn’t affect them.
“The affected states are mainly Kano, Kaduna, Katsina and Gombe, but the insects don’t need visa to go to any other states as far as the conditions are right.
“Climate change has enhanced the movement of pests around the field; the warm environment helps them to spread wide, increased humidity allow these pests to thrive, hence the new outbreak of Tuta Absoluta.
“We are glad to have the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development here and we are working together to solve this problem.
“The bottom line is that the biggest sufferers are farmers who are already in trouble, and they have invested in buying inputs, and it is time to harvest and there is nothing to harvest.
“It is ‘war’ we are going to declare against these insects and all of us here will be providing the ‘weapons’ to achieve it.”