Tomato farmers in Plateau State have been counting losses as an unknown disease is destroying most of their crops.
The situation, they said, was affecting their expected yields.
Some of the farmers said they had applied all the insecticides/pesticides they knew but to no avail. Others said they had sought the assistance of experts to unravel the problem and find a solution, but their efforts did not yield any meaningful result.
One of the farmers narrated that as the tomatoes begin to germinate and bear fruits, some aspects of the leaves will begin to dry up, the tomatoes themselves will begin to turn brown from the outside, while others will have black dots. With that, the fruit would become rotten inside and will no longer be good for consumption.
The farmers could not determine the exact disease, but the secretary of tomatoes farmers in Barkin Ladi Local Government Area, Auwal Tanko Haruna, said the dew at night was responsible for it. He said he had taken samples of the tomatoes to FADAMA 2 project office in Jos, the state capital, for testing and dissecting. He was asked to come back for the result this week.
He said the tomato farmers in the area, last year alone, got over 200,000 big baskets during harvest, but with the invasion of the disease on the crop this year, they were not certain of getting any meaningful thing.
Haruna said the farmers were confused as a result of the disease and did not know what to do or how to tackle the problem. He, however, said they could still plant and get a good result before January next year if they got a solution.
He called on state and local government authorities to help them find a solution to the problem. He said that considering the money spent in cultivating the crop, they were running at a loss.
He called on the farmers to remain calm and hopeful as they were doing all they could to find a solution to the problem.
Another farmer who cultivates tomatoes in the Lamingo area of Jos North Local Government, Marcel Ndubuisi, said he had lost most of his tomatoes to the disease, and he had tried all he could to control the menace without success.
Ndubuisi said he even brought some experts to his farm and they could not determine what the infection was. He said some persons attributed the cause of the disease to climate change, while others said it was due to soil infection, which extended to the crops.
He also said he was advised to change the land where he was cultivating, but he had no means of doing that due to its cost implication.
He added that moving to another land would not solve the problem as farmers from other locations are going through the same experience.
The farmer said the general challenge they were having as farmers is that they could not access loans, and even when they do, microfinance banks or the cooperative society who provided them with the loan will want repayment even before they harvest the crops, which is not often easy.
He further said that although they farmed near dams and engaged in irrigation farming, unfortunately, the pumping machine they used to buy between N30,000 and N35,000 is now N75,000.
Ndubuisi said all these challenges had added to their ordeal this year, which is now worsened by the disease.
As the farmers are counting their losses and still trying to find a solution to it, it is expected that the relevant authorities and stakeholders would come to their aid.