Spanish residents amazed the world when over 20,000 people engaged in the world’s biggest tomato fight. As the tomato war went down, tomato farmers across the world are experiencing a crisis due to a moth that is damaging their crops.
The moth, said to the size of an eyelash is causing enormous damages to tomato crops bringing huge losses to tomato farmers. The moth, known as the tomato leaf miner, is reported to have originated from Chile.
It is believed that the moth arrived in Europe through a container that contained infected farm produce, as reported in an article on the New York Times website. The container is believed to have arrived in Bunol, Spain where it later spread to other parts of Europe and later to Africa and Asia.
The tomato leaf miner has done the most damage in third world countries where most tomato farmers are poor and unable to access sophisticated tools of fighting the moth such as the integrated pest management.
For instance, the moth has caused enormous losses to farmers in Nigeria. In the state of Kaduna, a major tomato producing state in Nigeria, the moth attacked the crops and caused devastating damages to both the crop’s quantity and quality.
The moth was the cause of a major food crisis and threatened to affect the economy of the state. The affected productivity of the tomato crop made it difficult for households to maintain their purchasing power. The price of a basket of tomatoes shot from an average of $8 to $212. The state’s authorities expressed disbelief at the devastation to the extent of declaring a state of emergency.
Unlike the Nigerian farmers, European farmers have dealt better with the moth due to their ability to access technological systems and financial support from the relevant authorities.
Scientists in Europe have joined the fight against the moth and have been able to come up with a control system that is based on biological characteristics of the moth. The moths, however, reproduce fast and authorities fear that the moth may soon spread to North America.
While tomato farmers are doing their best to fight the moth, the average consumers are more likely to continue digging deep in their pockets to consume tomatoes.