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Tanzania tomato price soars

Tomato prices in the country have soared by 375 percent in just a month, pushing the commodity beyond the reach of majority poor folks due to scarcity of the product resulting from tomato leaf miner pest outbreak.
The pest (Scientifically known as Tuta absoluta) that first hit the horticulture sector at Ngarenanyuki area on the slopes of Mount Meru mid-2014 and later spread to Arusha, Kilimanjaro and Manyara Regions have led to the price of a carton of tomatoes hovering at Sh60,000 ($35.3), up from Sh16,000 ($9.4) in January 2015.
Michael Barnaba, a tomato grower at Ngarenanyuki said the infestation had cut the harvests by more than 80 per cent with only a fifth of the harvest being realised in the last season at his farm. He said Ngarenanyuki growers, where the crop is grown four times a year, producing over 26,000 tonnes per season and about 104,000 tonnes a year have so far opted to grow other crops.
Meru District Council trade officer Nuru Mollel said, the pests will affect production and income to both farmers and the government because tomatoes grown in the area were consumed locally in the major cities but also exported to Kenya and other Europe markets.
Experts in the sector have repeatedly warned that should the pest continue devastating tomatoes, the country stands to lose nearly Sh300 billion ($176.5 million) in export this year alone.
They say, in the worst cases, the pest infestation could lead to 100 per cent loss of the crop, as it was feeding on different kinds of crops (highly polyphagous ) and could attack a wide range of (solanaceaous) crops sharing a family with tomato including potatoes, brinjals, and Mnafu.
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