Governor Nasiru Ahmed El-Rufai of Kaduna State, Monday, declared a state-of-emergency on tomatoes farming in the state, saying that 80 per cent of tomatoes farms have been ravaged by an exotic pest, called tomato blight (Tuta Absoluta).
He said about 200 farmers in only three local government areas in the state lost one billion Niara in the last one month.
Speaking at a Press Conference through his Commissioner for Agriculture in Kaduna, he said already, some officials of the ministry had been sent to Kenya to liaise with experts and return with the best way of arresting the situation.
He said, “I want to say that Governor Nasir El-Rufai has declared a state-of-emergency on tomatoes in the state. This is as a result of invasion of the crops by a pest named tomato blight, botanically known as Tuta Aboluta.
“In the past one month, 12 local government areas of the state that produce tomatoes have lost 80 per cent of its tomatoes harvest. In three local government areas, about 200 farmers have lost one billion naira worth of their tomatoes. So you can imagine the magnitude of the lose.
“It is so severe that even Dangote who has established a tomato processing plant in Kano, had to shut down production.
“The problem with the disease which is caused by a moth, is that no amount of spraying will kill the adult. You spray it, after about three hours, it revives back to life. So, we have sent some of our officials to travel to Kenya and meet our partners. Kenya has a good advantage on this issue over us.
“We understand that they use a plant extract to take care of this problem. But we do not have that knowledge yet. We expect them to return very soon with a short and medium term solution,” he explained.
The Governor also said that the state would vaccinate 7 million livestock in the state to secure both man and animal from infections.
“About 63 per cent of all diseases that infect man are transmitted by animals. So vaccinating cats, dogs, horses and even poultry, is to protect man,” he added.
“Not long ago, a Professor of the Ahmadu Bello University, ABU, Zaria was bitten by a dog and he died of rabies infection. We have received several cases with dog bites, because in the past 20 years, there has been no vaccination in the state”, he added.