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Nigeria’s Kaduna state declares ‘tomato emergency’

A state of emergency has been declared in the tomato sector in Kaduna state, northern Nigeria, local media report.

The richest man in Africa has stopped making tomato paste
The richest man in Africa has stopped making tomato paste

A moth called the Tomato Leaf Miner, or Tuta Absoluta, has ravaged 80% of tomato farms, Commissioner of Agriculture Daniel Manzo Maigar said.

He calculated a loss of at least 1bn naira ($5.1m; £3.5m).

The price of a basket of tomatoes, a staple in Nigerian cooking, has increased from $1.20 less than three months ago to more than $40 today.

Most tomato production takes place in northern Nigeria, according to the UN.

A tomato paste manufacturing business in northern Kano state owned by Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, suspended production earlier in the month due to the lack of tomatoes, reports Forbes.

Tomatoes are a basic part of most Nigerians’ diets and the word tomato has trended on Twitter as people discuss the rising price.

One of the memes being shared is a tongue-in-cheek look at Nigerian pain over discovering the annual festival in Spain where people throw tomatoes at each other.

Mr Maigar was reported as saying officials from the ministry of agriculture have gone to Kenya to meet experts on the Tomato Leaf Miner. BBC