A team of Nigerian scientists from the National Horticultural Research Institute (NIHORT), Ibadan, Oyo State, said they have discovered a remedy that will reduce the plague of tuta absoluta, a disease that ravaged tomato in 2015.
Leader of the team, Dr. Abiola Oke, while speaking with journalists in Kaduna on the team’s sustainable management of the pest, commonly referred to as tomato ebola, explained that the technology had proved to be effective in handling the challenge.
She said they were on ground to sensitize the farmers on methods they could use in overcoming the challenge which led to loss of billions of Naira by tomato farmers in the country in 2015.
Dr. Oke, who is an Entomologist/Researcher, said the technology was developed after careful research and has proven to tackle the challenges for which it was conceptualized.
She said that all they did was to study the tuta absoluta and they found out that it is a pest that is active at night and is also attracted to light, hence, the development of the technology which involves using a tray and rechargeable lamp.
She added,” The technology is the use of tray and rechargeable lamps, the tray is filled with water, sprinkled with a little detergent and a stone is placed inside. A rechargeable lamp is placed on the stone and once the tuta which lays the eggs that damage the tomatoes come to the light, they will fall into the tray and are trapped, hence drown and die in the water.”
When asked how affordable the technology is to farmers who are mostly in the rural areas, she said that each set costs less than N1,000, which is used for purchasing the major tools; a plastic tray and a lamp, adding that the research and the tools for the setup of the technology and the funding is being sponsored by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture.
On how the scientists aim to reach out to all the farmers in the tomato area, she said their team on a first phase, would be touring tomato producing states in some states, where they would donate trays, lamps and detergents to the farmers.
“As a sustainable scheme, we would organize meetings and workshops for leaders of farmers groups within the catchment areas from where there would be a multiplying effect as they go back and train others,” she assured.
A farmer in one of the locations visited in Samaru-Zaria, Kaduna State, Malam Isa Ibrahim, expressed optimism over the technology and promised to reach out to other colleague in order to end the scourge.