A deadly moth is destroying Nigeria's tomatoes sending prices soaring 700 percent and forcing the local government to declare a state of emergency. Hayley Platt reports on the impact.
Tomatoes are a staple ingredient in Nigerian cooking. They're even used to make the country's national dish. But a moth known as Tuta Absoluta is destroying swathes of tomato fields sending prices soaring 700 percent. (SOUNDBITE) (English) TAIWO BANLE, LAGOS RESIDENT SAYING: "When you're buying one tomato for 100 naira (0.5 U.S. dollars), you might as well resort to eating food that does not require tomatoes." There are tens of millions of farmers in Nigeria. Many living on less than 2 dollars a day. The Kaduna state is Nigeria's biggest tomato growing region. Farmers there are calling the outbreak their 'tomato Ebola' after the deadly disease. They've already lost 80 percent of their crop. And a national state of emergency has been declared in the region. But more needs to be done. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BOLAJI OKUSAGA, ECONOMIC ANALYST SAYING: "We should have a strategic tomato reserve, we should have a strategic maize reserve to ensure that staples which are consumed by most Nigerian households can meet at least one whole year's demand should there be any crisis." Nigeria is the world's 14th largest producer of tomatoes and the largest producer in sub-Saharan Africa. But 'Tomato Ebola' isn't the only problem hitting the industry. Poor transport links and infrastructure are causing many crops to rot.