Nigerian minister of science and technology Ogbonnaya Onu has announced that the federal government has developed a home-grown pesticide to fight the tomato pest – Tuta Absoluta – which has ravaged farms in the West African country
Onu said that under the supervision of the Ministry, the National Institute for Chemical Technology (NARICT) in Kaduna State, has developed the pesticide using natural resources available in the country. He claimed that this pesticide was effective against Tuta Absoluta – a moth that lays eggs on tomato plants, which develop into caterpillars feeding on leaves, stems and fruit.
The minister commended the NARICT scientists for coming up with the new solution, stating that the institute had saved the country billions of naira that would have been used to import pesticide from abroad.
Onu’s announcements comes a few days after the governor of Kaduna State Nasiru Ahmed El-Rufai, declared a state of emergency on tomato farming in the state, stating that 80 per cent of tomato farms have been ravaged by the pest, locally called Tomato Ebola. He said about 200 farmers in three local government areas in the state lost one billion naira in the last one month.
The infestation has caused a severe scarcity of the vegetable in the Nigerian market. Tomato prices in the country have sky-rocketed since the crisis with a wholesale basket containing hundred tomatoes costing US$212, up from US$1.50 to US$7.50 before the outbreak.