In an effort to offset the tomato shortage in Nigeria, the management of Benson Idahosa University in Edo State has announced that it will produce 800,000 tons of tomatoes.
Tomatoes in six States in Nigeria – Jigawa, Kano, Katsina, Kadua, Plateau, and Lagos – have been infected with a pest that kills the fruit. According to Audu Ogbe, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, the disease that destroyed tomato crops across these six States is tuta absoluta, which has since been dubbed “tomato Ebola.”
University Vice Chancellor Ernest Izevbigie announced that the institution’s Faculty of Agriculture would grow tomatoes and carefully monitor them for quality.
“We are making an audacious statement that Benson Idahosa University is poised to produce 800,000 tons of tomatoes to ameliorate the present shortage in the supply of tomatoes in Nigeria in the next one year,” he said.
Dr. Izevbigie added that the boost in tomato production should alleviate hunger and food insecurity.
“We are at risk of food insecurity; that is what is happening now. If you have food security, you will have plenty of food available. But food security in this country is being threatened.”
He noted that the university’s agriculture department also had the technology to cultivate grass, which would ameliorate the effects of cattle grazing. The vice chancellor added that Nigeria should become more self-sufficient in terms of forage crops production, as the country has the proper soil and climate for such crops to thrive.