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    Panic as strange tomato disease ravages farms in Kano

    By Zahraddeen Yakubu Shuaibu 

    After several attempts to end the perennial tomato scarcity especially during the wet season in Kano state and other northern states, much is said to have been achieved despite numerous challenges faced by tomato farmers.

    It is, however, documented that last tomato season in Kano wasn’t so pleasant to farmers due to tuta absoluta pest attack that ravaged hundreds of hectares of tomato plantations. Indeed tomato farmers had it very rough, and as such farmers have made efforts to see that they have recovered from the pest attack.

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    It was gathered that one of the measures taken by these tomato farmers is sourcing of an improved variety tomato seed that can do well during the rainy season, but unfortunately, after much is done and farmers were so excited that they have found solution to the lingering problem, another problem seem to erupt as the tomatoes grown began to show signs of infections.

    Similarly most of the tomato farmers spoken to in Kano state decried what they termed as over incessant pest attacks on their farms, which according to them tempered with their yield leading to loss of their produce.

    The farmers narrated that  they are battling with ways of getting lasting solutions to the problem which has become almost a perennial issue despite several efforts to address the situation.

    Speaking to AgroClimateNews in his Tomato farm, Rabiu Zubairu Umar of Bunkure local government area of the state blamed the state government for its failure to diligently sort out a lasting solution to the problems that is gradually making tomato production unattractive to many farmers.

    He explained that though tomato farmers have personally taken the burden upon themselves, the trend is gradually getting out of hand adding that had it not been for the incessant pest attacks, thousands of tomato farmers in the state would have been smiling to the bank by now.

    “Tomato farming is among the leading lucrative farm produce. But presently people are afraid of tomatoes; they don’t invest hugely in them. The major problem is the pest attack like Tuta absoluta, which we call Ebola. The moment our tomato is growing, it will come and take away everything. I am a victim of this. Just a few months ago it caused me to lose about N1 million,” Umar said.

    Zubairu Umar inside his Tomato farm. Photo Credit: Agro Climate News

    Another tomato farmer Malam Usman Dauda Dorawa told our reporters that despite losing a huge sum of money during the last tuta absoluta attack, he didn’t relent and he had invested in tomato and just as he is getting ready to begin harvesting he noticed the strange blister like spot in the tomatoes.

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    “I noticed that this blister-like spot is in almost every tomato farm. However, we won’t fold our arms and as you can see we are all out to save our plantations. We have consulted experts on the issue and we are following their advice. What we are asking for is the authority’s concern to assist us to fight this problem. Pest attack has been a major setback in tomato production and we feel that it is high time that the government assist us to wipe it out completely,” he said.

    Similarly, Bello Shitu, another tomato farmer, stated that they are presently in a dilemma because the damage they have noticed is gradually spreading. He also expressed fear that what they were afraid of may happen in the end. According to him, if care is not taken there is going to be an absolute tomato scarcity soon in Kano state.

    “We are now battling with an attack that we couldn’t explain, our plantations are affected by pests and we don’t know what to do. If you look at some of the yields you will see the rust, some are already ripe and rotten as they are being affected. We are currently battling with what we don’t know, we are indeed in a dilemma,” he revealed.

    Another farmer, Abdulmumini Ahmad said tomato farming has done a lot for him, and that without the challenges they are currently facing, they would have gone far in the system.

    He said apart from the pest attacks on their tomato farms, they are also bedeviled with lack of good seeds and storage facilities, as well as the companies to buy their products directly.

    Some parts of the disease on the Tomato at a farm in Bunkure.

    “This has been another challenge for us. We lack a good seed that will withstand these pest attacks. A slide attack will lead to loss of millions. We also don’t have storage facilities. We are losing millions from that and there are no capable companies to buy our produce.

    “These are our major challenges in tomato farming. We are not after the cost of input. That is a different case. But let these problems be dealt with by the government,” he said.

    However, when contacted on the issue Kano state chairman of Tomato Out Growers Association of Nigeria (TOGAN) Alhaji Sani Danladi Yadakwari stated that the farmers didn’t report the attach to the association adding that there is a strong need for tomato farmers to engage the services of effective agronomist on issues that related to suspected attack.

    He further stated that from what was said on the attack, it is a fungal attack which can easily be addressed with the use of proper treatment powder.

    According to an independent agronomist Mr Zentar Abuki stated what is happening is a fungal infection caused by a group and as the fruit are ripening, the symptoms first become noticeable as small, circular indented areas, which later develop darkened centers that look like rust.

    He explained that such a situation can be addressed by the use or purchase of a disease-free seed, as the fungus that causes this to tomato may be within the seed. According to him, to be on a safer side, tomato seeds may be treated by soaking them in hot water (122 ºF) for 25 minutes to destroy the fungus before planting. He further revealed that some varieties of tomatoes have resistance to attacks of such nature.

    He stresses that the best way to address this type of issue is engaging the services of effective agronomists.



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