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Tomato Scarcity Don advocates research on heat-tolerant varieties

Ahmad-Babaji, a Professor of Horticulture at the Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR) ABU, expressed the viewpoint.

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Tomatoes

(Bonnie Plants)
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Prof. Bashir Ahmad-Babaji of Agronomy Department, Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria, on Monday advocated for research on heat-tolerant tomato varieties, to reduce the scarcity of the commodity in Nigeria.

Ahmad-Babaji, a Professor of Horticulture at the Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR) ABU, expressed the viewpoint in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Zaria, Kaduna State.

NAN reports that Nigeria usually experiences acute shortage of tomato at the beginning of every rainy season, because tomato cultivated during the dry season could not survive the rainy season.

The don said that tomato was a cool-loving and non heat-tolerant crop, hence, the need to intensify efforts toward coming up with new varieties that were heat-tolerant.

“One of the ways to address this peculiar problem is to develop heat-tolerant tomato varieties; already, our scientists have done something on that."

“Initially, IAR had the mandate of genetic improvement on tomato; during that time, we have done a good number of things by developing some few tomato varieties."

“But when the mandate was transferred to the National Horticulture Research Institute, all the genetics works have been transferred to that place,” he said.

Ahmad-Babaji said that in an effort to ameliorate the menace, IAR had developed UC82, a little bit heat-tolerant variety, which had been in the market.

The university teacher observed that for Nigeria to effectively tackle the problem there was the need to address problems arising from pest and diseases, humidity and non-heat tolerant varieties.

He, however, said that as an Agric Faculty, the Department of Plant Science was also doing other things, but not under IAR.

“Some students and scientists are also conducting some researches to come up with heat-tolerant tomato varieties."

“Last year, there was a student who graduated from the department, who had screened some varieties which have heat-tolerant ability; some of these were imported from outside."

“From my discussion with him, the student wanted to continue with his PhD in that line, maybe in some few years to come, we will be able to come up with heat-tolerant varieties.”

According to the professor, in the next three to four years, farmers should expect new heat-tolerant varieties that will adapt to the Nigerian climate.

He said that when such move was actualised, farmers would be able to cultivate tomato all-year round without any interference.

Ahmad-Babaji identified ice-rain and heavy rainfall as other problems directly affecting tomato cultivation during the rainy season.

He said that when tomato starts fruiting and ice-rainfall strikes on it, it would destroy the phil and break the fruits, noting that farmers do not usually pray for such to happen.

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