By Hajara Leman
The Gombe State Agricultural Development Project (ADP) says that the tomato pest, Tuta Absoluta, has seriously affected tomato harvests in three of the state’s 11 local government areas.
Mr Abba Dreba, the Pest Control Officer of the ADP, told News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Gombe on Wednesday that the affected local governments were Akko, Kwami and Yamltu-Deba.
“The tomato pest started ravaging tomato farms since last year but the ADP was not aware of this until this year; this is because tomato farmers in the affected local government areas were ignorant of the pest.
“However, when we received the report, we went round the entire local governments of Gombe and discovered that only Akko, Kwami and Yamltu-Deba local government areas were affected.
“The entire tomato farms in the three areas were devastated. This is a very serious problem because the pest is resistant to all the available chemicals and insecticides in the market,’’ he said.
According to him, once the pest affects a tomato farm, it will damage everything in the farm within a week or two.
Dreba called on the state government to initiate proactive measures to ensure that tomato planted in this rainy season would not be affected by the pest.
“If proactive measures are not taken, tomato farmers will divert their attention to other crops because Tuta Absoluta is very devastating,” he said.
Tuta absoluta, a destructive tomato pest, ravaged many tomato farms across the country and triggered an astronomical increase in the market price of tomato in 2016.
Also speaking with NAN, Mr Sunday Lah, Director, Gombe ADP Agric Extension Services, advised farmers to wait for the rainy season to be well-established before engaging in crop planting.
He said this was the only way to ensure that their efforts would not turn out to be a worthless venture.
Besides, Lah said that the ADP was trying to procure seeds from reputable institutions for farmers in the state.
“Most at times, a farmer goes to the open market to buy seeds without knowing the source,’’ he said.