Dr Dauda Mohammed, a Lecturer at the University for Development Studies says the root-knot nematodes, plant parasite, is the major disease that continues to affect tomato production in the Upper East Region.
He urged the government to treat it as a national issue and create appropriate interventions to address it.
The crop and vegetable plant physiologist made the call in an interview with the Ghana News Agency in Bolgatanga in the Upper East Region on the sidelines of a sensitization workshop for tomato value chain actors.
The aim of the engagement meeting which was organized by the Regional Directorate of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, among others was to find out how challenges of tomato production in the region could be addressed, ways to improve sustain and effectively market the produce.
It was also aimed at encouraging farmers to rededicate themselves to improve production.
Dr Mohammed who is also a research scientist and horticulturist said the nematode parasites attack the roots of the plant and suck its nutrients, gradually killing it.
He lauded the flagship programmes in Agriculture, specifically ‘Planting for food and Jobs’, and suggested that the root-knot nematodes problem could be incorporated into it, using cheaper and environmentally friendly methods.
He said though some effective chemicals and pesticides could destroy the parasites, the continuous use of such chemicals had a high residual effect on humans when washed into water bodies and drinking water points.
“Its impact is very devastative”, he added.
Demonstrating some trials on some peptide-based nematicides the university had recently conducted, Dr Mohammed said the trials on some farms proved effective and it could be adopted to reduce the challenges farmers had with the parasites every year.
“Nematodes can stay in the soil for a very long time and continuously affect the crops”, he indicated and mentioned other diseases of tomatoes such as ‘blight’, ‘dumping off’ and ‘wilt’.
Other stakeholders at the engagement meeting were representatives of OCP, producers of fertilizers, the Savannah Agricultural Research Institute(SARI), MoFA, Tomato Traders and Transporters Association, and farmers.