The Kaduna State Government has declared a state-of-emergency on tomato production in the state, following an outbreak of a pest named ‘tomato blight’ that has ravaged tomato farms in Northern Nigeria.
The outbreak has led to loss of jobs due to temporal closure of some tomatoes paste processing companies like the Dangote Tomato Paste factory in Kano, among others in the region, due to lack of raw materials.
Briefing newsmen in Kaduna as part of the state government activities to mark its one-year anniversary in office on Monday, the state Commissioner for Agriculture and Forestry, Dr. Manzo Daniel Maigari, also stated that the outbreak has affected more than 200 farmers in three Local Government Areas of the state, with an estimated loss of two billion naira. He also highlighted that, “The problem with the disease, which is caused by a moth, is that no amount of spraying will kill the adult. You spray it, after about three hours, it revives back to life.”
He added that eight other states in the North have been affected, which has resulted to an increase in the price of the commodity to about N42,000 per basket.
According to the commissioner, tomatoes blight is caused by an insect scientifically called Tuta Absoluta, which its eats up the tomato leafs and soft parts of the plant.
He pointed out that the state had experienced a similar outbreak in 2015 on a small scale, which was neither documented nor any serious measures taken against it. However, he noted that the State Government has sent some officials from the ministry to Kenya to seek intervention on the disease where there is said to be an extract from a plant that kills the insects. “We expect our partners from Kenya to move in quickly, and we are developing intervention strategies for immediate, short and long-term plans,” he said.
On motivating farmers’ activities in the state, the commissioner said government is ready to invest in them by forming them into cooperatives where their activities can be captured and become visible.
“We also want their farm produce to be aggregated in the state, especially in ginger, sorghum and maize, among others, which the state produces in large quantities, so as to curtail the activities of middle-men, who come and hijack our farm produce – with peanuts.”
Dr. Manzo noted that NPK Fertilizers, which is sold for about N6,500 in the market, will also be subsidized to N4,000 per bag for farmers, which will be distributed directly to them through their local government areas and wards.
On grazing reserves, he said a committee has been set up to conduct a need assessment on grazing reserve and how it can be revived, because it has been gazetted in the state since 1944.
Also speaking at the briefing, the Commissioner of Health, Prof. Andrew Nok, revealed that the State government has commenced work at the 300-bed specialist hospital in the millennium city, in order to complete the project.