Have you been wondering what could be causing the present scarcity of tomatoes in the market in Nigeria, even though our dear country grows 1.5 million tonnes of tomatoes every year, making her the 14th biggest producer in the world. Well this is what you need to know about the current situation of tomatoes scarcity.
"Tuta absoluta" it is...I found this on the timeline of a fine Nigerian medical Doctor who resides in the UK and with a little research this is what i was able to come up with.
"Tuta absoluta is a species of moth in family Gelechiidae known by the common names tomato leafminer and South American tomato moth. It is well known as a serious pest of tomato crops in Europe and South America."
The larva feeds voraciously upon tomato plants, producing large galleries in leaves, burrowing in stalks, and consuming apical buds and green and ripe fruits. It is capable of causing a yield loss of 100%.
Tomato is the main host plant, but T. absoluta also attacks other crop plants of the nightshade family, including potato, eggplant, pepino and tobacco.It is known from many solanaceous weeds, including Datura stramonium, Lycium chilense, and Solanum nigrum.
The adult moth has a wingspan around one centimeter. In favorable weather conditions eight to ten generations can occur in a single year.
According to Wikipedia though the moth was first known as a tomato pest in South American countries, it was identified in Spain in 2006 and have since gone global as it has been detected in France, Italy, Greece, Malta, Morocco, Algeria, Libya and now its ravaging tomato farm in the northern parts of Nigeria.
It was revealed that some populations of Tuta absoluta have developed resistance to pesticide but new experiments have revealed some promising agents of biological pest control for this moth, including Nabis pseudoferus, a species of damsel bug.
Our Government's reaction:
Too busy with subsidy and petrol price hike to be worried about the tomato industries and its current woes. And a little wonder Billionaire business Mogul Alhaji Aliko Dangote suspended production at his processing factory barely three month after it began operations.
Where do we go from here, i bet Nigerians will need a change of diet and take tomato off the menu till we the farmers start growing a starin resistance to the pest or our government intervene by effectively managing the situation