Early this year, a tomato infestation disease entered Nigeria through the Niger Republic. It destroyed about 80% of the tomato farms in that area. An exotic pest known as the “tuta absoluta” was identified as the culprit of this devastation. The insect is allegiancemd moth-like in appearance and originated in South America. This insect and its larvae has also become a serious threat throughout the Mediterranean regions. The moth attacks the tomato plant leaves by laying lots of larvae which voraciously feeds on the plants.
Nigerians called this pest the “tomato ebola” or aka the “Tomato Leaf Miner.” Tomatoes are Nigeria’s new oil rich economy substitute. Audu Ogbeh, the federal agricultural minister reported that this pest has spread to six states (Jigawa, Kano, Katsina, Kaduna, Plateau and Lagos). The exotic insects posed a threat to their national food security because the insect also eats potato and pepper plants. This decimation quickly brought together commissioners and governors of each Nigerian state to deal with this crisis. Local tomato plant farmers have been losing more than $5m in just one month.