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FG braces up as ‘Tomato ebola’ spreads across 6 states

FG braces up as ‘Tomato ebola’ spreads across 6 states
May 25
13:35 2016

The federal government has identified six states – Jigawa, Kano, Katsina, Kaduna, Plateau and Lagos – where the pest, tuta absoluta, also known as ‘tomato ebola’, has ravaged the production of  the staple.

Audu Ogbeh, minister of agriculture and rural development, said this during a press briefing in Abuja, disclosing that the government was making efforts to contain the outbreak.

He added that the reproductive nature of the pest, a thriving environment for the pest and a lack of know how to contain the pest, is the reason for the prevailing scarcity of tomato.

He denied reports that tomato processing factories were responsible for the scarcity, saying the factories were also affected by the situation.

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“The pest can also attack even pepper and Irish potato. So we are confronting something quite serious. But the good thing is that we are tackling it right now as experts will commence work immediately,” he said.

“We are bringing the commissioners and governors of states to jointly attack this pest, which, if not dealt with, will create serious problems for food security in our country.”

Ogbeh said the Nigerian government is consulting with states and experts to solve the pest situation.

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He said the experts offered other varieties of tomato that grow well in the western part of the country as alternatives.

“We have two processing plants for tomato paste in Nigeria, Erisco and Dangote, and their capacities are huge. We welcome their arrival because our annual import bill of tomato paste is about $400m and it is a good sign that we can now produce here and make money for our farmers,” he said.

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