Tomato ebola: Nigerians should consider alternatives, says nutritionist

Blessing Enenaite | Punch

A professor of nutrition and dietetics, Olivia Afam-Anene, has explained how consumers can manage the outbreak of Tuta Absoluta, also known as tomato ebola, a pest that has destroyed tomato farms across some states in the country. The development is said to have caused an increase in the price of tomatoes in the market.

In an interview with our correspondent, Afam-Anene said, “On how consumers can manage this situation, they can use alternative sources. In place of tomatoes, they can eat white rice with sauce, not tomato sauce. They can also use ripe pawpaw and carrot to make sauce. Tomatoes are rich in vitamin A. The alternatives are also rich in vitamin A. Fat helps in transporting the soluble vitamins. Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin, if one puts it in oil, it will even help in transporting it more.”

Speaking on the diverse narratives on sachet tomatoes, she stated, “We don’t believe in hearsay. I have not done research on that and people cannot make claims that sachet tomatoes are not good. These are just allegations. What some people do not know is that most of these sachet tomato companies have farms where they go to buy the materials for their products.

“Before a company uses something, it has to pass through quality control and it has to pass through the satisfactory stage before their product will be approved. So, these claims have not been proved and as scientists, we do not base our judgment on accusations. We operate based on evidence.”

Speaking on how the government could help regarding the tomato ebola, she stated, “In this situation, the government can help the farmers because it has destroyed their crops. The farmers will not have money again even to produce next year. So, the government can come with areas they can cushion the effect on the farmers.

“It is because tomatoes are scarce, that is why its prices are high. Maybe research can be made to determine how the diseases on the crops can be controlled. Imagine a farmer with hectares of land and the whole thing is gone. The government can also give the farmers incentives and so many other things.”

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