If I say the cost of tomato has risen in Nigeria, I would be lying because that is not even close to what happened. The price of tomatoes all over markets in every part of Nigeria has skyrocketed and keeps increasing at what looks like an exponential rate. Even if you don’t cook, you would have felt the effect of the rising cost of tomatoes when you buy any food they use tomato to cook.
A small basket of tomatoes that used to cost around N500 about three months ago now goes for like N12,000 in the market. A lot of people have lamented this problem but trust Nigerians, the happy people that we are, a lot of Nigerians are already making humour out of this.
What Is The Cost Of Increased Tomato Price In Nigeria?
For a lot of Nigerians, the Government is really making life hard in Nigeria. A lot of people I spoke to believed that the high cost of tomatoes was a resultant effect of the increase in pump price of petrol (PMS). Only a “handful” cared to investigate what the real problem was. The cost of tomatoes in Nigeria today has nothing to do with the removal of subsidy, deregulation of the downstream sector, fuel price increase or whatever you call it.
What Is the Cause of The Problem?
A moth called the Tomato Leaf Miner, or Tuta Absoluta, has ravaged 80% of tomato farms, Commissioner of Agriculture, Kaduna State, Daniel Manzo Maigar said. He said 200 farmers together lost at least 1billion Naira (about $5.1m; £3.5m) over the past month.
The seriousness of this condition has made Nigerians to liken it to the Ebola Virus outbreak. They now call it Tomato Ebola. The causative agent of this condition is Tuta absoluta.
Tuta absoluta is a devastating pest of Tomato which originated from South America. Recently Tuta absoluta considered to be a serious threat to tomato production in Mediterranean region. The pest is now finding the shores of the Mediterranean a perfect new home where it can breed between 10-12 generations a year. Each female can lay 250-300 eggs in her life time.
The Damage Caused by Tuta absoluta on Tomatoes
The larvae of Tuta absoluta mine the leaves producing large galleries and burrow into the fruit, causing a substantial loss of tomato production in protected and open filed cultivations.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh, has said that his office had commissioned experts to look at the issue as “ordinary pesticides cannot tackle the disease because the tomato moth multiplies so fast.”
With this development and increase in the cost of tomatoes, a lot of Nigerians are now switching to the use of imported packaged tomato paste and purees in sachets and tins. Nigerians should however be cautious when choosing the tomato paste they want to buy. NAFDAC, recently told us in this report that “Imported Tomato Paste brands in retail packs (tins or sachets) from a particular country and sold everywhere in Nigeria falls far below National Food Safety Standards.