In July, 2015, the Integrated Pest Management Innovation Lab held a two-day workshop to help raise awareness of the danger of the invasive pest Tuta absoluta, or tomato leafminer. This tiny moth attacks tomatoes, the world’s most commercially valuable horticultural crop. In Tanzania, the pest is set to destroy thousands of acres of tomatoes if not checked.
The workshop in Arusha drew 103 participants from all realms of agriculture-related work in Tanzania.
The Tanzanian newspaper The Citizen reported on the workshop in its July 23rd, 2015 issue. While a link to the article is not available, the article has been reproduced below.
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Institute, US college, unite to defeat pest
By Filbert Rweyemamu, The Citizen Correspondent
Arusha. Tropical Pesticide Research Institute (TPRI) is collaborating with experts from Virginia Tech in the US to deal with Tuta absoluta, a tiny moth that is threatening to wipe out production of tomatoes in the country.
The tomato leaf miner is an invasive pest first spotted in October, last year, at Ngarenanyuki area in Arumeru District, Arusha Region.
Besides tomatoes, the pest also attacks other crops from the same family of solanaceous including potatoes, pepper, eggplant, and a favourite vegetable for Arusha and its environs popularly known as mnafu.
Dr. Epiphania Kimaro, the TPRI director general, said the pest could destroy between 80 and 100 percent of a tomato farmer’s yield and that it could spread through twigs of the plant, and by flying to other areas, or hiding in tomatoes that are already in the market.
TPRI and Virginia Tech are under the auspices of the US Agency for International Development-funded Integrated Pest Management Control programme employing pheromone traps, biological, and plant-based insecticides, and the pest’s own natural enemies for the fight against the moth.
Virginia Tech’s presence is felt in three African countries, namely Tanzania, Kenya and Ethiopia, professor Muni Muniappan from the Polytechnic Institute and State University said.
Mr. Maneno Chidege, the coordinator of the research on the moth, said: “TPRI has received reports from various parts of the country on the invasion of the pest and that deliberate measures against it ought to be taken.”
The researchers were speaking during a workshop which attracted agricultural officers and extensionists from Babati in Manyara Region, Hai in Kilimanjaro Region, Arumeru in Arusha Region, and the city-based Selian Agricultural Research Institute, among others.
A smallholder farmer at the Ngarenanyuki, where the crop is grown four times annually, producing over 26,000 tonnes a season, and about 104,000 a year, complained over the pest for robbing him of his tomato harvest toward the end of last year.
The moth, which the African Insect Science for Food and Health expert, Dr. Brigitte Nyambo, said must have penetrated into the area much earlier than last October when it was first spotted, had already spread to Kilimanjaro, Manyara, Morogoro, and Tanga regions then.
According to the Tanzania Horticulture Association (Taha) executive director Jacqueline Mkindi, about 45,000 smallholder farmers engage in the production of fruits, vegetables and tomatoes in the affected regions.
“The more we delay to act, the more the pest spreads, devastating the crop at the expense of poor farmers,” Ms. Mkindi said.
Ms. Mkindi said an appropriate management plan for suppressing the pest was required and that Taha was in collaboration with other stakeholders carrying out pest management control trials in the Northern Zone.
MORE INFO: TUTA ABSOLUTA PEST Tuta absoluta is a species of moth in family Gelechiidae known by the common names tomato leafminer and South American tomato moth. The larva feeds voraciously upon tomato plants, producing large galleries in leaves, burrowing in stalks, and consuming apical buds and green and ripe fruits. It is capable of causing a yield loss of 100 percent.