Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Horti Nigeria, and Nigeria AgriBusiness Group (NABG) have collaborated to combat the recent outbreak of the deadly tomato pest disease known as Tuta Absoluta. The media has reported that this disease, also known as “tomato Ebola,” has affected mainly states in the North like Kano, Kaduna, Katsina and Gombe. Stakeholders in the sector revealed this at a news conference on April 25, 2023, in Abuja. It was initiated by Horti Nigeria and supported by the Netherlands.
NABG President, Chief Emmanuel Ijewere, said at the event 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 Absoluta is an insect that have ravaged farms, adding that it is a “smart” insect that is very devastating to the industry. According to him, the insects have decided to build their homes under the leaves where sprayed insecticides does not affect them. While Kano, Kaduna, Katsina and Gombe are the mainly affected states, the insects can still travel to other states provided that the conditions are right.
The pest crisis started from Galama LGA in Kano.
Chief Ijewere said the stakeholders are glad that the ministry of agriculture and they are working together to solve the 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. Also speaking at the event, Dr. Deola LordBanjor, Director of Horticulture at Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the current crisis with Tuta Absoluta started from Galama Local Government Area (LGA) in Kano.
It was reported to the ministry and they started investigating. They discovered that about 300 hectares in that local government alone were affected by this infestation. Dr. LordBanjor said that the ministry got to know that the farmers in Galama LGA might have lost about N1.3 billion economically due to the infestation of the disease. The ministry is working in collaboration with the National Tomato Growers, Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria (NAPTAN) every time and investigating what is happening in other States.
Agency creates awareness using phone-in Hausa radio program.
The director of horticulture said that the ministry has records already and is working to convene a stakeholders’ meeting, which may be merged with NABG planning. The ministry is sourcing for funds seriously and interventions to solve critical problems of Tuta Absoluta. Meanwhile, Dr. Mohammed Attanda, Executive Director, National Horticultural Research Institute (NIHORT) said his agency conducted a Hausa radio phone-in program to create awareness on the mode of damage caused by the disease. He urged the Ministry of Agriculture to incorporate NIHORT sustainable integrated management packaging for the production in the national policy to stem the tide of occurrence of the disease.
In a 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 collaboration with other partners offered certain solutions. The disease is back today and major stakeholders need to be called to come together so that they can agree on the way forward. The National Secretary, NAPTAN, Mr. Sani Yadakwam, said that when Tuta Absoluta enters a farmer’s farm it destroys everything there within three days.
Six tomato-producing states were affected by the pest in 2017.
In 2020, when the devastating pest disease resurfaced, the Kano State chairman of Tomato Out Growers Association of Nigeria (TOGAN), Sani Danladi, said that six states, which are Kano, Jigawa, Katsina, Gombe, Plateau and FCT, were affected by the pest in 2017, according to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. Tuta absoluta is a species of moth in the family of Gelechiidae. It is also known by the name tomato leafminer or tomato Ebola.