Tomato Scarcity Looms in Kano as Deadly Tuta Absoluta Disease Devastates Farmlands

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The threat of tomato scarcity in Kano state is a few meters away following the outbreak of a deadly disease tagged as Tuta Absoluta which is consuming tomato farms in the State and other neighbouring states.

Tuta Absoluta otherwise known as tomato Ebola has continued to ravage over 300 hectares of tomato farmland worth N1.3 billion for over a week now in Kano.

FARMERS VOICE NG gathered that expectedly, the development has triggered a skyrocketing price of the commodity as observed at ‘Yankaba Market, a famous hub in the state.

At the market, a plate of tomato is sold at N1,500, while a basket price ranges between N18, 000 to N25, 000.

Buyers of tomatoes in the market complain the tomatoes have spoiled, but the price is getting higher. “You can’t even make a stew with your N1,000” a buyer Aisha laments.

Muhammad Deeni Nasiru, a well-to-do tomato farmer and a victim whose farmland was among the farms hit by the ravaging tomato Ebola in Bunkure, lamented how he raked nothing to his account while expecting a bumper harvest of about two million naira worth of tomatoes this year despite investing millions to the farm.

“I planted tomatoes in my four hectares of land, but I did not get anything. The funny thing is I spent money on insecticide as well but it didn’t work. This breaks my heart because I lost over N2 million”, he said.

On his part, Chairman of the Irrigation Farmers in Bunkure, Mamuda Dan Bello, described the hazard as a painful one because he lost his two hectares of tomatoes to the insects, just as the Tuta Absoluta also consumed his one hectare of maize farmland.

“For the tomatoes alone I lose about N1.3 million. If this thing continues like this, getting tomatoes will be very difficult in this country” he groaned.

Auwalu Hussaini, also a tomato farmer, at Daurawar Sallau in Garin Mallam LGA, about 23 kilometres away from Bunkure wailed about how he lost all the tomatoes in his four hectares of land a few days to harvest despite the application of insecticide.

Another farmer, Alh. Sule Zubairu explained how in every dry season, tomato farmers in Garin Mallam usually produce about 20 trucks, but the reverse is the case this season as they only got 5 trucks due to the outbreak.

Remarking, the Chairman of Perishable Goods at Yankaba Market, Umar Ibrahim expresses fears of possible tomato scarcity in the State. Noting that the tomatoes we are getting now are from the few farmers that escape the insects and with the potentiality of increasing the price.

On his part, an Agriculture expert in the Department of Crop Protection, Bayero University Kano, Dr. Nafi’u Bala Sanda expresses worry that the insects are resisting the pesticide.

Dr. Sanda however stressed that to halt the spread of the disease, farmers must adopt modern farming techniques which include biopesticide and Tuta Trap Tray which kill the adult Tuta.

According to Engr. Gambo Isa Garko, the Director of Agricultural Extension at the Kano State Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (KNARDA), the State Government has assisted farmers in the form of chemicals to combat the spread of insects.

He emphasized the importance for farmers to take necessary steps to sanitize their farms in order to protect their crops from pests and to address the recurring post-harvest crisis they face annually.

FARMERS VOICE NG reports Nigeria ranks as the second-largest tomato-producing nation in Africa, following Egypt, and holds the 13th position globally, producing approximately 2.3 million metric tonnes of tomatoes. However, the national demand for tomatoes is estimated to be around 3 million metric tonnes.

Regrettably, in addition to facing a deficit of 700,000 metric tonnes, the country also grapples with a significant post-harvest loss, with 50% of the tomatoes produced being affected. This loss is primarily attributed to the lack of adequate storage facilities and inefficient marketing channels.

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