The pest Tuta absoluta, also known as the tomato moth, has been wiping out green tomatoes in fields across Turkey. The pest has spread from the Aegean province of İzmir, and from Bodrum in the southern province of Muğla, covering all Anatolia. I
Summer brings with it an expectation of field tomatoes which taste like tomatoes should taste, unlike cultivated greenhouse tomatoes. As the winter passes Turkey longs for the succulent Çanakkale varieties. However, it seems that Tuta absoluta is bringing Turkeys dreams of field tomatoes to an end.
Tuta absoluta came to Turkey from South America, via Spain and the Mediterranean, in 2007. That is when Turkey should have taken immediate measures, but the Agriculture Ministry did not attach much significance to the issue.
In 2009, the moth was discovered in the Yağcılar district of Urla and in the village of Ovacık in Çeşme, in the Aegean province of İzmir, as well as in the Batakova region of Marmara and the Mumcular region of Bodrum. Even still, the Agriculture Ministry still did not take the issue seriously.
This year, the tuta moths are destroying crops all across Turkey and if they spread to greenhouses the consequences will seriously effect tomato cultivation, possibly leaving Turkey unable to cultivate tomatoes for a long time. The Tomato moth has already dramatically affected Turkey's export to Ukraine, who recently turned down 50 trucks of tomatoes because of tomato moth infestation.
Turkey's annual tomato cultivation is almost 11 million tons, 5 tons of which come from greenhouses. Turkey exports 2 million tons of the entire cultivation and another 2 million are used in the production of tomato paste. There rest is consumed unprocessed.
Hurriyet Daily News and Economic Review, Sunday, August 8, 2010