A state of emergency has been declared in northern Nigeria, following the influx of moths that have destroyed hectares of tomato farms.
The incident is feared to have adversely affected the country’s leading staple food. Authorities fear that the scourge, which has been described by local farmers as ”tomato Ebola,” will hike up tomato prices as well as the manufacturing of tomato paste.
“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 told the AFP.
So far, Nigeria’s agricultural sector has shown that the West African economy has suffered a grave loss of $5.02 million, with a $200 million tomato factory plant built by Nigerian billionaire Aliko Dangote being forced to shut down.
Nigerian authorities are reported to have sent experts to Kenya in order to develop a national strategy to combat the brown moth or Tuta absoluta.
The moth, which first originated in South America, spread to Europe and Africa and is one of the most-devastating pests in the world.
Nigeria remains Africa’s second-largest producer of tomatoes as more than 1.5 million tons of the crop are harvested on a yearly basis, with the federal government reportedly spending more than $300 million annually on the import and maintenance of the beloved crop, CNN revealed.