By Adetutu Folasade- Koyi
MINISTER of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has ascribedtomato scarcity in the country to Boko Haram which ravaged some states in the North East.
Tomato is commonly used as part of ingredients in soup-making across the country. It is also used a condiment in various dishes.
But, it has been very expensive in the last two months as a result of acute scarcity, which has been blamed on a new pest, tuta absoluta. The pest is also known as ‘tomato ebola.’
Yesterday, Mohammed ascribed scarcity of tomatoes to years of insecurity in the North east part of the country.
He said this in an interview with Lagos-based Channels Television.
Mohammed specifically said insecurity in the region forced many farmers out of the zone.
“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 on the farm to produce consumable items.”
Asked if he was convinced that tomato scarcity could be attributed to insurgency, he affirmed: “Absolutely! 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.”
The minister also attributed the prevalent clashes between farmers and herdsmen to climate change.
“When you look at the herdsmen and farmers clashes, I think its neglect of many years. More than 15, 20 years ago, we were warned all over the world that, as a result of climate change there could be conflicts and we should take steps to avert such clashes, but, we did not listen.
“What is happening is that there is a gradual reduction in natural resources. If you take Lake Chad for instance, it has lost almost 90 percent of its waters over a couple of years.
“Lake Chad sustained and supported livelihood of farmers and fishers, with the loss of waters, you see a migration southwards.”