Tomato Ebola, Threat To National Food Security – Omotayo | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Tomato Ebola, Threat To National Food Security – Omotayo

Posted: Jun 16, 2016 at 3:30 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

Seyi Taiwo-Oguntuase



The recent shortage of tomatoes in the country has been described as a threat to national food security.

Professor Akin Omotayo, Director, Institute of Food Security, Environmental Resources and Agricultural Research (IFSERAR) of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB), stated this while presenting research findings done by the IFSERAR.

He said the shortage was attributed to a South American-originated pest called, Tuta absoluta which is locally known as Tomato Ebola or tomato leaf-miner, stressing that the pest is capable of causing food insecurity in the country.

According to the research findings, Professor Omotayo said that within one month, farms in the North-West and North-Central regions had been ravaged, while about 80 per cent tomato production loss was reported in Kaduna State, reputed to be the tomato capital of Nigeria.

He said the recent invasion of the disease in tomato fields in Nigeria was highly devastating, calling for an urgent attention.

According to him, “Tomato is a crop of tremendous economic and nutritional importance throughout the world. In Nigeria, it is an indispensable constituent of the daily diet of over 170 million people and it is consumed as food and also used as raw material in food processing industries.”

Professor Joseph Adigun, a Crop/Weed Scientist in the University, speaking on the biological features of the pest, stated that although Tuta absoluta prefers to attack tomato because it can feed, develop and reproduce on weeds, which gives it great advantage to continue its existence.

He said cases of infestations have also been reported in eggplant, potato and common bean, shedding light on some control measure that can be taken to combat the pest given its vicious nature and crop destruction potential, Professor Adigun disclosed that biological control, chemical control and the use of pheromone traps can be employed to eradicate the pest.

He revealed that a study conducted to evaluate the effect of Bacillus thuringiensis on the disease showed high efficacy in reducing the damage caused at high infestation levels when compared with non-treated controls.

“Bacillus thuringiensis has proven to be highly efficient in reducing the damage produced by first, second, and third larval instars. Pyemotes species such as Trichogramma achaeae, Trichogramma urquijoi Trichogramma bourarachae and Trichogramma cacoeciae, were also recommended to be considered as a biological control agent against tomato leaf miner,” he said.

On the eradication and control method, the Don said it involved complete elimination of the pest from an area, adding that this control method was more feasible when pest population is confined to a small area, or where pest population density is low.