El Rufai declares state of emergency as worms invade tomato farms

A mysterious caterpillar or moth has emerged in Kaduna State destroying acres of Tomato farms and fruits. The destructive insects have also spread to States like Kano, Jigawa, Plateau, Katsina and Kaduna states.

According to the News Agency of Nigeria, several tomato farms all located in northern geopolitical zone were badly hit by the invading caterpillars. The specie that invaded Kaduna State in particular feeds on tomato leafs, destroying crops and farms region – a situation that has resulted in scarcity and higher prices for the commodity.

The moth has ravaged more than 80% of tomato farms in Kaduna State alone. Speaking with correspondents, the Kaduna State Commissioner of Agriculture, Daniel Manzo Maigar, confirmed the reports.

According to Maigar, “More than 200 farmers together lost at least 1bn naira over the past month.” This has resulted in price hike of the produce. For instance, the cost of one basket of tomatoes has increased from 20,000 naira less than three months ago to more than 35,000 naira today, if you find it.

The incident has led Governor Nasir El Rufai to declare a state of emergency so as to tackle the invading caterpillars.

Governor El Rufai sent some government officials to Kenya to meet experts on the Tomato Leaf Miner to learn how to deal with the pest. The crisis led to Aliko Dangote shutting down his newly built tomato paste factory in Kano State.

Tomatoes are a basic part of most Nigerians’ diets and the word tomato has trended on Twitter as people discuss the rising price.

A survey conducted by NANs at Mile 12, Whitesand and Iddo markets in Lagos on Friday, revealed that the price of tomatoes has gone up. The bag price of tatashe and rodo, both brands of pepper, rose from N13,000 to N13, 500.