Minister of information and culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed
The minister of information and culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has blamed the current tomato scarcity in the country on Boko Haram.
In the past two months the crop has been very expensive as a result of acute scarcity, which the federal government blamed on tuta absoluta, a pest known as ‘tomato ebola’.
The minister of agriculture, Audu Ogbeh, said the government was making efforts to contain the outbreak which had ravaged six states already.
Mohammed speaking in an interview on Channels Television, said the insecurity in the north-east had forced many farmers out of the zone.
He said: “People talk about the price of tomato but they forget one thing; they forget that the price of tomato today is a direct result of the fact that we have lost two years harvest to Boko Haram insurgency.
“Most of the people you see riding Okada (motorcycles) in Lagos are people who would have been in the farm to produce consumable items.”
The minister said he was convinced that the tomato scarcity could be attributed to insurgency. He said: “Do you farm where there is war? We have lost two seasons of harvest, in addition we have had very poor rainfall last year and this year.
These are the combined factors responsible for the scarcity of tomato. Go and ask economists and agriculturists, they will tell you.”
Mohammed also said the prevalence of clashes between farmers and herdsmen was as a result of climate change, saying government refused to heed past warnings on the situation.
In another development, the current scarcity of tomatoes in Nigeria has fueled smuggling of the crop from neighbouring countries like Ghana and Cameroon through land borders.
The alarm was raised by the chairman of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Lagos state chapter, Otunba Femi Oke, who stated that the shortage of the staple food had increased smuggling of the product into Nigeria.