The Minister of Agriculture, Senator Abubakar Kyari, has attributed the scarcity and rising prices of tomatoes in the country to a severe infestation affecting the crop. In a statement on Monday via his official X (formerly Twitter) account, Kyari identified the infestation as “Tomato Ebola” or “Tomato Leaf Miner.”

Reports surfaced on Sunday that a basket of tomatoes was selling for as much as N150,000 in some areas. In response, Kyari announced that the Federal Government has deployed experts to the affected regions to control and eradicate the infestation.

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“A significant number of our tomato farms have been impacted by a severe infestation known as Tomato Ebola or Tomato Leaf Miner, which has drastically reduced the availability of tomatoes and driven up costs,” he stated. “Our ministry is taking immediate action to address this issue.

We are deploying agricultural experts to the affected areas to contain and eliminate the infestation. Additionally, we are providing farmers with the necessary resources and guidance to recover their crops as quickly as possible, similar to the Ginger Blight Control Taskforce. We understand the impact this has on your daily lives and are working tirelessly to restore the supply of affordable tomatoes,” Kyari explained.

Minister of Agriculture, Senator Abubakar Kyari

Earlier reports indicated that the price of tomatoes had skyrocketed in May in Nigeria’s markets, with traders in Lagos, Abuja, and other areas selling the commodity for as much as N140,000 to N150,000 per basket. Traders attributed the price spike to regular seasonal fluctuations and the nearing end of the harvest period for the current species of tomatoes due to the wet season.

As of April 2024, the price of similar food products ranged from N50,000 to N100,000, marking an over 100% increase in less than a month. The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) Food Price Watch report for April highlighted a significant year-on-year increase in tomato prices, with a 131.58% rise from April 2023 to April 2024. Additionally, between March and April 2024, the average price for 1kg of tomatoes rose by 17.06%, indicating a continuing upward trend.

Furthermore, an analysis by SBM Intelligence, known as the Jollof Rice Index, tracked the cost of cooking Jollof rice across major cities in Nigeria. The index showed that the average cost of preparing a standard serving of Jollof rice increased from N13,106 in October 2023 to N17,000 in March 2024, reflecting a significant rise in the cost of essential ingredients and impacting households nationwide.