SANAÃ¢ÂÂA, Nov. 6Ã¢ÂÂThe price of tomatoes in Yemen has jumped to YR400 ($1.86) per kilogram due to the spread of the noxious moth, tuta absoluta, which is wreaking havoc on farms and destroying crop yields.Â Â
A strategy to use pesticides to protect the crop against the moth has largely failed and caused locals to complain about the deteriorating quality of the tomato plants that are making it to consumersÃ¢ÂÂ tables. Â According to Yemen Times artical published today.
Ã¢ÂÂWe were concerned about the price hike of food commodities,Ã¢ÂÂ said Abdulla Al-Jubani, a local in SanaÃ¢ÂÂa, Ã¢ÂÂbut now tomatoes are another concern.Ã¢ÂÂ
Ã¢ÂÂTomatoes are a staple in our meals. Even if we buy tomatoes, it does not taste good because of chemicals farmers are using.Ã¢ÂÂ
Officials expect the situation to get worse. They predict costs will continue to rise as usable crops diminish.
According to the Agriculture and Irrigation Ministry, the mothÃ¢ÂÂs destruction of tomato plants has cost Yemen over YR71 billion (approximately $330 million) since its appearance last autumn through the end of August.
The government has promised various financial stipends for farmers to help them offset their losses, although it is unclear if any have been delivered yet. Mohammed Al-Ghashm, the deputy minister of the Agriculture and Irrigation Ministry, said Yemen has obtained several relief packages from foreign countries. He cited a $550,000 grant from the United States Assistance and International Development (USAID) program, $120,000 donation from the United NationsÃ¢ÂÂ Food and Agriculture Organization and a $238,000 grant from the Community Livelihood Program.
Additionally, a combination of efforts from the Yemeni government, Credit Agriculture Cooperative Bank, and Agriculture and Fishing Fund, are supporting the Agriculture Ministry with a YR250 million grant (approximately $1.16 million).
In the meantime, officials are scrambling for a strategy to rid the countryÃ¢ÂÂs farms of the moth. The head of the research and guidance department at the Agriculture and Irrigation Ministry, Engineer Wajeeh Al-Matwakil, said the biggest problem with combating the pest is the immunity it has developed to various pesticides that have been used against it in the past. As a result, the Ministry has abandoned the ineffective strategy, which also provoked a consumer backlash.