Vegetable Crops for East Africa


This project develops and implements scale-up technologies for selected vegetables crops (tomato, onion, African eggplant, cabbage, chilies, and beans) in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Tanzania.


Country Profiles

This project focuses on Ethiopia, Kenya, and Tanzania. These fact sheets provide an overview of our work in these countries, including past and present projects and accomplishments.

Ethiopia (pdf)

Kenya (pdf)

Tanzania (pdf)








In East Africa, over two dozen arthropod pests, both native and introduced, threaten food safety and security. These pests reduce crop productivity and increase costs of production, leading to lower incomes, which reduce farmers’ access to medical care, education, and purchased food. For some crops, losses of 100% have been recorded as a result of pests.

Pest-related losses and associated problems will inevitably escalate in the coming years as the food and income demands of growing populations drive intensification of crop production. Climate change is expected to further increase levels of pest damage as rainfall patterns become more erratic and temperatures rise. Nowhere will these pest-related losses be more severe than in intensive vegetable production typical of Ethiopia, Kenya, and Tanzania. This project focuses primarily on tomatoes, onions, African eggplants, cabbage, chili peppers, and beans.

One pest that poses a major threat is Tuta absoluta, the South American tomato leaf miner. High levels of this non-native pest compounded by the arbitrary application of synthetic pesticides has caused early resistance development and loss of potential natural enemies, threatening the region’s tomato crop. Another focus of this project is weeds. Unlike other pests, weeds are present in every cropping system throughout the growing season, making weeding with hand-held hoes the most punishing and time-consuming task, especially for women, in East African vegetable production.

This project builds the capacity of host country institutions to implement effective IPM research and locally-adapted, gender-appropriate, technology transfer programs that lead to reduced losses attributed to pests. The result is reduced use of synthetic pesticides, improved productivity, and enhanced outcomes for growers in the region. The project also evaluates program impacts on pesticide use, environmental benefits, farm productivity, and incomes, and uses this information to inform regional and national policy.

Achievements and Highlights

  • Commitment to capacity-building is evidenced by the 18 students in the region working on their M.Sc. or Ph.D. degrees, supported by the project.
  • In Uganda, research on tomato cultivation using IPM packages shows that these techniques are effective in controlling key pests of tomato, reducing pesticide usage, lowering the cost of production, and increasing the yield of tomatoes.
  • Several farmers who graduated from the Kimbowa United Coffee Farmers’ field school in the Sironko district in Uganda started other farm schools.
  • Research in Tanzania showed that using chlorine treatments extended the shelf life of tomatoes.
  • Research in Kenya revealed barriers to women’s participation in IPM. Suggested changes include: scheduling activities when women can attend and paying attention to duration of training; ensuring that training occurs at a location that women can get to; sensitizing men that training is of value for women; and paying attention to motivating factors for women in receiving the training. (E.g., if they are not allowed to control cash earnings, they have little incentive to participate.)

Current Project Objectives

  • Conduct participatory and survey needs assessments to identify priority pests, current pest management practices, availability of alternative IPM technologies,  and constraints to IPM adoption by farmers, including policy and regulatory constraints.
  • Conduct long- and short-term training and capacity building in i) IPM systems and ii) pest diagnostics (especially invasive species), with an emphasis on adoption of modern communication tools when and where appropriate.
  • Test prototype management technologies, evaluate their potential yield and environmental benefits in on-station or on-farm trials with grower groups, and work with local partners to develop and implement training in the use of technologies that prove to be cost effective.
  • Evaluate IPM packages to determine project impacts, including enhanced farmer knowledge of pests, adoption of IPM strategies, reductions in pesticide use and the associated environmental benefits, and increased farm productivity, incomes, and the associated gender benefits.
  • Draw on project findings and impacts to inform regional and national policies that support IPM implementation to benefit the health of people, the economy, and the environment.
  • Each host country will have at least two students in MS degree training with a 50/50 gender balance for these students. Degree training will be supplemented by participation in regional meetings or workshops where students will receive training on specific IPM skills.

Luis Alberto Cañas Castro: Principal Investigator 

Associate Professor of Entomology

Ohio State University

Co-Principal Investigators/Collaborators

Amon P. Maerere

Professor of Horticulture, Sokoine University of Agriculture


Peter Sseruwagi

Mikocheni Agriculture Research Institute


John Cardina

Associate Professor

Ohio State University

Robert Gilbertson

Professor of Virology

UC Davis

Matthew Kleinhenz

Associate Dean and Director of Research

Ohio State University

Sally Miller

Professor of Plant Pathology

Ohio State University

George Norton


Virginia Tech University

Cathy Rakowski

Associate Professor

Ohio State University

J. Mark Erbaugh

Director of International Programs in Agriculture

Ohio State University

Ferdu Azerefegne

Associate Professor, Hawassa University


Danny Coyne

Soil Health Scientist, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (ITTA)


Jesca Mbaka

Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization