Seth Negble a farmer and Chairman of the Ziope Area Vegetable Growers Association.
Over six hundred tomato farmers in the Agotime-Ziope District of the Volta Region have lost virtually every pesewa they invested into farming this season.
This follows the infestation of over 1,000 hectares of tomato farms in the area by a leaf-curling virus known as Tomato Yellow Leaf Curl Virus (TYLCV) transmitted either by silverleaf whiteflies or infected transplants.
Although different crops are cultivated at Agotime and Ziope, the cultivation of tomatoes on commercial basis is predominant among the local folks.
According to the farmers, their produce feeds markets across the country due to their quality and reasonable pricing.
Also, this serves as a source of livelihood to many households in the communities.
In early June, this year, the farmers reported that almost all their tomato crops were being attacked by the leaf curl virus.
They said that was the first time such a situation had occurred.
When BUSINESS GUIDE visited some of the farms at Ziope, most of the famers were rendered helpless.
The application of chemicals and spraying of insecticides could remedy the situation.
Seth Negble, a farmer and Chairman of the Ziope Area Vegetable Growers Association, noted that ‘we are in trouble. We don’t know what to do’
He added that most of the farmers took loans and borrowed money from friends, relations and money lenders to cultivate the crops.
A physically-challenged farmer, Mauvi Bedla also affected by the plague, said they initially thought it was a minor infection and bought pesticides and other insecticides to curb the infection.
He added that ‘the only option is to clear this whole land and hope that a miracle happens to get us to cultivate in the next tomato season.’
The affected farmers appealed to government and other faith-based institutions to come to their aid to save their only source of livelihood.
The District Agricultural Officer, Noah Adomina, explained that his outfit would intensify its outreach programme to educate farmers on the need to cover their crops at the nursery stage to prevent a recurrence of the infection.
The situation is likely to result in the shortage of tomatoes in various markets of the country, particularly those served by Agotime and Ziope.
‘There is an increase in tomato prices in the region, particularly Ho and its environsthe price of tomato will not fall like how it happened in the past.’
Though it can take up to three weeks before any symptoms develop, the most common indicator of the disease is the yellowing and upward curling of the leaves, which may also appear crumply.
The infection can be confused with several other tomato disorders such as tomato big bud, tomato yellow top, physiological leaf roll, as well as phosphate and magnesium deficiency.
From Fred Duodu, Agotime-Ziope
( [email protected] )
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