The Tuta Absoluta pest is a leaf moth that bores into the fruits and stem of the tomato plant causing enormous food loss. Infestation by the Tuta can ravage and wipe out tomato farms within 48 hours. The pest invaded tomato farms in Nigeria, recently.
The Pest is known world over, as it originated from South America as far back as 1912 and has ravaged tomato farms in so many countries of the world till date including Europe, Middle East, Asia and Africa. Between 2006 and 2008, it invade tomato farms in Spain, Italy, France, Greece, Malta, Algeria and Morocco; 2009 – 2010 – Libya, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Iran; 2011 – 2013 – Sudan, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman and other Gulf States; and Kenya, Tanzania, Niger and finally Nigeria in 2015.
It entered into Nigeria through Niger Republic into Katsina, Kano, Kaduna, Jigawa, Nasarawa and spread to other tomato producing states in the North as well as Southern States of Lagos, Oyo and Ogun.
The Federal Government became aware of the Tuta Absoluta tomato pest in 2015 and quickly directed the National Horticulture Research Institute, Ibadan, a mandate agency on tomato research and development, to move into action and proffer solution to the menace.
After the survey, recommendations were made to the Federal Government, which led to Tuta Absoluta containment programme in the 2016 budget. Collaboration was also sought with FAO to find a solution which is ongoing for Nigeria.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is currently working with Agronet, representatives of Russell, UK experts in Tuta Absoluta containment. The team is expected to deliver the containment packs within the shortest possible time.
This will enable farmers resume production activities with desired yield to reverse the precarious situation at hand. The first phase of the intervention programme will involve containment packs for 50,000 hectares to be used among tomato producing states, capacity development on the containment solution, surveillance and monitoring in all 774 Local Govt. Areas.
The Federal Government will partner with states and Local Government Areas to ensure a complete containment of the pest and enable farmers to continue sustainable production of the fruits for local consumption and provide raw materials for processing.