Mmegi Online :: Tomato embargo hits farmers hard
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Last Updated
Thursday 17 August 2017, 11:24 am.
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Tomato embargo hits farmers hard

Local tomato producers have begun to bear the brunt of the recent restrictions imposed on tomatoes by the Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food Security, the Botswana Horticulture Council has revealed.
By Isaac Pinielo Thu 15 Dec 2016, 13:11 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Tomato embargo hits farmers hard








The restrictions came following the detection of tomato leaf miner or Tuta absoluta, which is described as a highly destructive insect pest to tomato plants and fruit and is also reported to infest other plants in the Solanacaeae family such as potato, pepper and eggplant.

As a result of the ban, traders are not allowed to move solanaceous crops from the tomato leaf miner infested areas, which are Bobirwa, Boteti, Chobe, North East, and North West.

Importation of tomato fruits from countries infested with tomato leaf miner is suspended with immediate effect until further notice.

Botswana Horticulture Council chairman, Boikaego Phole said the ban has already started impacting on their horticultural businesses, with some farms having been quarantined. “At the moment we cannot quantify the extent of the impact since the Ministry has not concluded its assessment of the situation,” he said.Phole noted that with the restrictions, local tomato traders would be forced to import tomatoes thereby operating at a loss. He further appealed to government to back them in lobbying insurance companies to consider introducing schemes meant for horticulture.

Chief executive officer of the Botswana Horticulture Market, Simon Meti said ever since the ban was imposed, there has been acute shortage of tomatoes in the market. “We currently have only 15 boxes of tomatoes stockpiles which is not going to last for long,”

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he said.

He regretted that the situation has led to them failing to supply their major customers like the Botswana Defence Force, schools and hospitals.

In an effort to prevent the spread of the pest across the country, the Ministry has recommended certain measures such as field sanitation through collection and destruction of infested fruits and planting of non-host crops.

The Ministry also suggested crop rotation, cultivating the field to expose the pupa, as well as mass trapping of the adult moths in and outside the farms using water-baited lures.

In addition, the Ministry will destruct all tomato plants in the infested farms.

According to officials, the tomato leaf miner can cause up to 100% yield loss.

“The main pathway for the tomato leaf miner to spread from one area to another or from one country to another is through the movement of infested seedlings and tomato fruits,” the Ministry said.

Given the economic importance of the pest, it is understood that a management strategy has been developed to be used by all tomato producers in Botswana. The Ministry implored all producers to cooperate with the monitoring teams in their districts, adding that failure to cooperate with the agricultural extension agents will result in farms being placed under quarantine.“For this operation to be a success, the public’s full cooperation will be highly appreciated,” it said.

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