Tomato farmers in Kumo Community in Gombe have called on both the Federal and the State Governments to assist in combating the perennial plant pests affecting tomato cultivation in the community.
Alhaji Yaya Siddau, who had been cultivating tomatoes for over 32 years in Wuro-YayanGari village, said the cultivation of the plant was becoming more difficult as a result of pests that were attacking their farmlands.
Siddau said that these pests were more prevalent in the rainy season and had discouraged many farmers from cultivating the plants, as a result of the damages they had incurred.
“ I have been tomatoes farmer for over 32 years now and I have not experienced the kind of destruction by these pests. Within the last six years or more, we have had to battle with plant disease.
“We need the intervention of both the Federal and the State governments to boost the cultivation of the vegetable and to halt the trend from farmers jettisoning tomato cultivation for other crops,’’ he said.
Ibrahim Mustapha, Chairman, Tomato Farmers in Akko LGA, said tomato cultivation had become a tradition in the community and that the produce from their community had served both the neighbouring states and traders from Niger Republic.
“Government should come to our aid to combat these pests to sustain this tradition of tomato cultivation in the community, which has been and is still providing the means of livelihood to our people here.
“ It is because of this cultivation that the tomato company, which is now moribund was set up here by the old Bauchi State Government. That is a proof that we are contributing to food security too,” he said.
Mustapha added that with the prompt intervention of the government in this regard ahead of this year’s rainy season, there would be a boost in production to meet local demands.
“During the rainy seasons, we usually have thousands of baskets of tomatoes and several trucks loading from dawn to dusk. We have really been instrumental in ensuring that tomato cultivation is sustained in Gombe State,’’ he said.
Mai-Anguwa Mohammed, another tomato farmer from Kolmani village, noted that farming had become a lucrative vocation for many people in the state but stressed that tomato farmers were yet to get maximum benefit as a result of pests.
According to him, with pests in their farms, the risks of cultivating tomatoes was now higher than any time in the history of tomato cultivation in the community.
“We no longer get good returns,” he stressed.
While also appealing to the state government to assist the community with irrigation facilities to ensure an all-year round cultivation of tomato, Mohammed commended the state government for the renewed interest in agriculture.