Tuta Absoluta, otherwise known as ‘tomato Ebola’ is an insect infesting disease that ravages tomato farms in some northern states and concerted efforts are being made to curtail it.
In their efforts to tackle the disease, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Horti Nigeria, and Nigeria AgriBusiness Group (NABG), say they have collaborated to combat the recent outbreak of the tomato disease, especially in Kano, Kaduna, Katsina and Gombe where it is currently reigning.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that stakeholders during a news conference on Tuesday in Abuja, disclosed that the menace would be tackled headson.
Speaking at the event, Chief Emmanuel Ijewere, NABG President, said that it was imperative for key stakeholders to collaborate and harness resources to address the recent outbreak of the tomato disease.
He explained that Tuta Absaluta is an insect that has ravaged tomato farms, adding that it is a ” smart” insect that is very devastating to the tomato.
“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 States, but the insects don’t need visa to go to any other State as far as the conditions are right.
”We are glad to have the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development here and we are working together to solve this problem.
“It is ‘war’ we are going to declare against these insects and all of us here will be providing the ‘weapons’ to achieve it,” he said.
Dr Deola LordBanjor, Director Horticulture, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the current crisis with “Tuta Absoluta” started from a Local Government (Galama) in Kano.
”When it was reported, we started our investigation and we found out that about 300 hectares in that local government alone were affected by this infestation,” he said.
He said that the ministry got to know that the farmers in Galama might have lost about N1.3 billion economically due to the infestation of the disease.
”We are working in collaboration with the Tomato Growers, Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria (NAPTAN) every time and investigating what is happening in other States.
”We have our records already and we are working on two things; the Ministry is convening a stakeholders’ meeting, which may be merged with what NABG is planning.
”The ministry is sourcing for funds seriously and interventions to solve critical problems of Tuta Absoluta,” he said.
Dr Mohammed Attanda, Executive Director, National Horticultural Research Institute (NIHORT), he said agency conducted a Hausa radio phone-in programme to create awareness on the mode of damage caused by the disease.
He urged the Ministry of Agriculture to incorporate NIHORT sustainableTuta integrated management package,for tomato production in the national tomato policy to stem the tide of occurrence of the disease.
In his remark, the Director – General, NABG, Dr Manzo Maigari, said that the disease occurred on epidemic level for the first time around 2016 and 2017.
He said that NABG in concert with other partners offered certain solutions.
“Today it is back and we have to call on these major stakeholders to come together so that we can agree on the way forward,” he said.
The National Secretary, NAPTAN, Mr Sani Yadakwam, said that when Tuta Absoluta enters the farmer’s farm it destroys everything there within three days.
He said that the matter has been reported to the Ministry of Agriculture, NABG and other stakeholders on how to stop the spread of the disease “because we are afraid it might spread to other States.” he said.