International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA)
Germany gives €1.2M for vegetable pest management initiative to boost food security and nutrition in Tanzania, Kenya, Madagascar and Thailand
Dar es Salaam – Efforts to improve the productivity of vegetables to feed and enhance the nutrition of people in Africa and Asia have received a major boost with the release of a €1.2 million (about US$1.6 million) research grant from the German government. The grant will be used for an international initiative that will develop environment-friendly and sustainable solutions to pests and diseases of economically important vegetable crops, increase their production, and improve the livelihoods of smallholder growers.
The financial package was provided through the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) and the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).
The project will cover selected vegetable-growing coastal and urban communities in Tanzania, Kenya, Madagascar, and Thailand.
The research will develop and promote ecologically sensitive but economically viable systems to manage key pests and diseases of tomato and pepper – two of the most important vegetable crops in these countries – thereby increasing production. The project will also introduce interventions that will significantly lessen reliance on chemical pesticides in vegetable farms, consequently reducing hazards to farmers’ health and the environment.
The initiative will be led by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and implemented in partnership with the World Vegetable Centre (AVRDC). Researchers from the University of Bonn in Germany, Kenyatta University in Kenya, and Kasetsart University in Thailand, as well as the national agricultural research services, NGOs, private sector, and vegetable farmers’ groups in the four countries, will also take part.
Dr Danny Coyne, IITA Soil Health Specialist based in Tanzania, will coordinate the project. He says that the urban and peri-urban production of perishable fresh vegetables is being increasingly intensified to meet rising demand, especially from urban areas. This leads to increased incidences of pests and diseases. Growers, in turn, apply more pesticides to counter the threats and maintain production.
“We will look for ways to help urban and peri-urban vegetable farmers raise their production and profits without increasing the use of chemical pesticides,” he said.
Specifically, researchers will focus on developing accurate pest and disease diagnosis and identifying durable resistance against bacterial wilt disease, nematodes – small worm-like pests, and viruses. The project will also train farmer groups in assessing new varieties for suitability, and develop more efficient seedling production and dissemination systems.
“Most infection of vegetables takes place in the seedling nursery. Farmers who buy infected seedlings unknowingly transfer the pests and diseases to their farms. To address this, we will also establish pilot clean-seedling nurseries and train farmers on pest and disease detection, proper seed production, grafting, and nursery management,” Coyne adds.
For more information, please contact:
Dr Danny Coyne, firstname.lastname@example.org
Soil Health Specialist
IITA – Tanzania
Catherine Njuguna, email@example.com
Regional Corporate Communications Officer (East and Southern Africa)
Jeffrey Oliver, firstname.lastname@example.org
Manager, Corporate Communications Service
IITA Headquarters, Ibadan, Nigeria
Africa has complex problems that plague agriculture and people’s lives. We develop agricultural solutions with our partners to tackle hunger and poverty. Our award-winning research for development (R4D) is based on focused, authoritative thinking anchored on the development needs of sub-Saharan Africa. We work with partners in Africa and beyond to reduce producer and consumer risks, enhance crop quality and productivity, and generate wealth from agriculture. IITA is an international nonprofit R4D organization established in 1967, governed by a Board of Trustees, and is a CGIAR Research Center.