The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in collaboration with Fadama III Programme, has organised a capacity building workshop on strategies for management and containment of Tuta Absoluta in Tomato production in Nigeria for field officers in the 19 northern states including the Federal Capital Territory .
The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Dr Shehu Ahmed, who presided over the workshop in Abuja said, the initiative was borne out of the need for Government to continue the awareness and upgrade of the technical know-how of relevant desk officers and extension staff as well as subject matter specialists of Agricultural Development Projects (ADPs) on the systematic and well-coordinated approach required in the management of Tuta Absoluta and its spread.
The Permanent Secretary, who was represented by the Deputy Director, Horticulture in the Federal Department of Agriculture in the Ministry, Kanu Michael, said: “capacity building is a key component activity towards achieving the goal of food security and import substitution of the agriculture policy document the ‘Green Alternative’ 2016-2020.”
He said the workshop was intended to impart knowledge and develop skills of state level technical staff on various strategies and management practices for control and containment of the invasive pest of tomato with emphasis on use of environmentally friendly technology.
While encouraging the field officers to render technical support to farmers in achieving self-sufficiency in tomato production, he noted that it has been projected that Nigeria would attain self- sufficiency when its output averages 6 million metric tons annually.
He charged participants to fully put into good use and train others both in the public and private sectors in their respective states the skills and knowledge acquired.
Director of the Federal Department of Agriculture in the Ministry, Dr Babandi Mohammed, in his opening remarks, said the country’s target to be self-sufficient in tomato production by the year 2018 might be a mirage if Tuta Absoluta is allowed to ravage farms.
The director, who was represented by the Deputy Director in the department, Obinna Okpara called for the support of field officers, saying that, “You are important to this course because you are close to the farmers, you are the eyes of farmers and bringing you here means we have started our target of meeting 2018 deadline”.
The lead presenter of the workshop and representative from the National Horticultural Research Institute ,Ibadan (NIHORT)Dr. Abiola Oke in her paper presentation titled ‘Strategy for Tuta Management ‘ said Tuta Absoluta cannot be eradicated but can only be managed, saying that government should adopt an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) for Tuta Absoluta which has three national objectives, to contain the economic damage; prevent the development of resistance strains to insecticide as well as prevent the increase in insecticide residue in the food chain.