Money Moves June 06, 2016 at 09:30 am

Has Nigeria Found the Cure for ‘Tomato Ebola’?

Charles Ayitey | Contributor

Charles Ayitey June 06, 2016 at 09:30 am

June 06, 2016 at 09:30 am | Money Moves

Despite being one of Africa's leading producers of tomatoes, the 'Tomato Ebola' moth has caused Nigeria's tomato prices to soar. Encomium.ng

The National Research Institute for Chemical Technology in Nigeria claims it now has a functional pesticide capable of destroying the influx of moths that ravaged the country’s tomato sector a few weeks back, according to a report from the BBC. The pesticide has yet to bring an end to the days of panic and economic loss associated with the crop damage dubbed “Tomato Ebola,” as it is still awaiting approval and distribution. Nigeria’s federal government has yet to confirm the pesticide’s existence or status, however.

Earlier, the West African nation declared a state of emergency as authorities predicted that the outbreak would hike up tomato prices as well as the manufacturing of tomato paste in Nigeria. Face2Face Africa reported at that time:

“We have declared a state of emergency over the outbreak of a moth that has destroyed over 80 percent of tomato farms in the state. This is only the beginning of a disaster if we don’t take drastic measures because the disease is fast spreading across the north,” Kaduna state Agriculture Commissioner, Manzo Daniel had told the AFP.

The BBC’s report confirms many of these fears have come to pass:

“The Tomato Leaf Miner moth has destroyed 80 percent of tomato farms in Kaduna state, in the north of the country….The price of a basket of tomatoes has soared from $1.20 (£0.80) less than three months ago to more than $40.

Inhabitat.org reports that the the moth, which first originated in South America, spread to Europe and Africa in 2006 and is one of the most devastating pests in the world, not just in Nigeria but also in East Africa and South Asia.

Nigeria is Africa’s second-largest producer of tomatoes, harvesting more than 1.5 million tons of the crop on a yearly basis. Yet according to CNN, Nigerians spend more than $300 million annually importing tomato paste, while 45 percent of the locally grown tomatoes “never make it to market because farmers lack the access to process and transport their tomatoes.”

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