By; JACOB ONJEWU DICKSON, Kaduna.
Worried by the ravaging effects of the tutsa pest popularly referred to as tomato ebola on production which led to loss of crops and scarcity of the product, which adversely affected Nigeria’s economy in 2015, a team of Nigerian scientists from the National Horticultural Research Institute (NIHORT), Ibadan Oyo State, have invented a technology that will reduce the plague to the barest minimum.
Leader of the team, Dr. Abiola Oke who was tracked by journalists from Kaduna on the team’s sustainable management of tutsa on tomatoes to the state, explained that the technology has proved to be effective in handling the challenge.
She explained that they were on ground to sensitize the farmers on methods they could use in overcoming the challenge which led to lost of billions of Naira in investment for tomato farmers in the country in 2015.
Dr. Oke who is an Entomologist/Researcher, said she was happy that the technology which was developed after careful research has been able to tackle the challenges for which it was conceptualized.
She said that all they did was to study the pest tutsa and found that it is a pest that is active at night and is also attracted to light, hence, the development of the technology which is the use of a tray and rechargeable lamp.
“The technology is a use of tray and rechargeable lamps. The tray is filled with water, sprinkled with a little detergent and a stone in placed inside, after which the battery powered or rechargeable lamp is placed on the stone.
“Once the tutsa which lays the eggs that damage the tomatoes come to the light, they fall into the tray and are trapped, hence drown and die in the water,” she said.
When asked if the technology would be affordable to farmers who are mostly in the rural areas, she said that each set up 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 set up 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 farming areas, 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.
When questioned by the newsmen, a farmer in one of the locations visited in Samaru-Zaria, Kaduna State, Malam Isa Ibrahim praised the team for inventing the technology that will put an end to the tutsa which is causing nightmare to tomato farmers.
He said that with the development, they would reach out to other colleague and give them the good news that there is a cheaper and more efficient way to deal with the pest that has been threatening their source of livelihood.
“Now we have seen the effect of this technology. It is far cheaper and more effective than the pesticides we have been using,” he added.
The technology which was introduced to the farmers on Saturday evening, was evaluated on Sunday with encouraging results.