Making Jollof Rice, a beloved traditional dish in Nigeria, has suddenly become very expensive.
Tomatoes, one of its main ingredients and a staple of Nigerian cuisine, are going for $2 each at local markets, with wholesale baskets costing as much as N42,000 or $212, Kaduna State Agriculture Commissioner, Manzo Daniel, told AFP.
The culprit is a moth called Tuta absoluta, which has destroyed crops in the northern Kaduna State, forcing the local government councils to declare a state of emergency.
“It is a serious problem. The disease has affected production and consumption, prices are continuing to rise and there is no availability,” Shehu Sani, Senator for Kaduna Central, told CNN.
The area, which contributes strongly to Nigeria’s overall production, has already seen losses of millions of dollars, according to Sani.
“Many depend on tomato farming for their livelihood and tomatoes are an indispensable part of the diet. People cannot do without them,” he said.
The tomato crisis comes on the heels of a recent fuel shortage and a general rise in commodity prices due to inflation and a lack of foreign currency.