Arusha.Tomato farmers in Arumeru district, Arusha region have raised a red flag over an agricultural pest attacking their tomato crops.
Over 800 acres are reported to have been damaged by a specie of moth also known as tomato leaf miner or locally called 'kantangaze' amid reports they can destroy up to 80 per cent of the yields.
Scientifically known as 'Tutaabsoluta', the tomato leaf eater was first detected in the country in 2014 and is said to have spread to other regions apart from Arusha.
A scientist with the Arusha-based Tropical Pesticides Research Institute (TPRI) ManenoChidege has said studies are underway on the best pesticide to contain the pest.
Biological methods under which the female moths are disabled from producing larvae - hence stopping reproduction - is one of the strategies mulled by local experts to address the menace.
An agricultural field officer at Bwawani ward Mohamed Kaniki said over 200 acres of tomato farms have been destroyed by the pest known in the area as 'ngabobo'.
"We are appealing to the government to find us chemicals which would effectively wipe out the pest", he explained.
A tomato grower in the area EliphaceLyatuu warned that many smallholder farmers would be rendered poor with continued attack on their crop by the tomato leafminer.
'T.absoluta', also known as South American tomato moth, is well known as a serious pest of the crop in Europe and South America.
The larvae feeds voraciously upon tomato plants, producing large galleries in leaves, burrowing in stalks and consuming apical buds and green and ripe fruits.
From South America, the pest was identified in North African,later moving to Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Senegal, Nigeria and Zambia before reaching Tanzania in 2014.