The federal government yesterday declared a state of emergency on tomatoes subsector in the country, saying that 80 per cent of tomatoes farms had been ravaged by a pest known as tuta absoluta. The government noted that the action followed a scarcity of the commodity in the country which had led to an outrageous increase in the price where available, adding that a new tomatoes policy to address the current crisis was underway. Minister of industry, trade and investment, Hajia Aisha Abubakar, told newsmen after a meeting with major stakeholders across the tomatoes value chain that comprised packagers, relevant government ministries and regulatory agencies, farmers and processors,that a technical committee that would draft the proposed policy would be inaugurated next week.
“This meeting was convened in response to the current scarcity of tomatoes in the country occasioned by the outbreak of the tomato moth, tuta absoluta. Our investors in the sector have also been upset about the CBN’s ban on foreign exchange allocation for the importation of tomato concentrate, a vital raw material for them. So, we all came together to chart a way forward.The major decision we have taken is to develop a tomato policy under our National Industrial Revolution Programme (NIRP). A technical committee that would work on the policy draft should take-off next week so that we would have an approved plan in place before the next tomatoes season,’’ she said.