In a recently published paper in Scientific African, CABI’s Willis Ochilo led on a study which captured a better understanding of tomato producers in Kenya, describing in detail the production practices in order to identify challenges and opportunities for increasing tomato productivity for the country’s smallholder communities.
Tomato is a good source of vitamins A and C, and lycopene making it an important crop in terms of food and nutritional security for families in Kenya, and is in fact eaten in nearly all households across the country.
Bacterial wilt (Ralstonia solanacearum) is one of the world’s most devastating plant diseases, with major crops such as tomato, potato and pepper being severely affected. Until now, crop breeders and farmers have had to simply wait for their crops to mature to determine the level of resistance to the disease. New research has shown that with modern metabolomics technology, it is possible to determine the level of disease resistance in plants much earlier at the seedling stage. This development could save both farmers and breeder time and money when growing host crops, and reduce the yield losses caused by the bacterial disease.
The tomato leaf miner, Tuta absoluta, is a devastating pest of tomato. Originating from Latin America, T. absoluta has spread via infested fruits and packaging material to Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. Given its potential for crop destruction and rapid reproduction, it quickly became a key pest of concern in East Africa. Its primary host is tomato, but it also affects potato, aubergine, beans and others. Continue reading →
For the final post of our mini-series, “Our favourite recipes”, this Tomato Choka recipe has been kindly provided by Bob Ramnanan, CABI Country Coordinator for the Caribbean. Tomato Choka is a quick and easy meal vegetarian meal and can be served with sada roti (flatbread), rice, pasta or potato.
In recent years, Tuta absoluta has gained a reputation for being one of the most destructive pests of tomato and can cause losses of 80-100% in the field if left unmanaged. Tanzania are feeling the effects of the yield reduction with a 375% increase in the cost of tomatoes in the past 6 months. A carton of tomatoes that cost Sh16,000 ($9.4) in January 2015 now costs around Sh60,000 ($35.3). Vivian Munisi, a trader at Tanzania’s Arusha central market, is just one of the people who are expecting the price of tomatoes to increase further in the coming months as a result of the shortfall caused by T. absoluta.
The larvae of T. absoluta, which is also known as the tomato leaf miner, bores into leaves and fruit and feeds below their surface, forming mines as they move along the plant. The network of mines produced as a result of this feeding can also serve as an entry point for disease, which can lead to further damage. Although tomato is the main host for the tomato leaf miner, it can also affect potato and other Solanaceae plants. The pest originated in Latin America but has spread to Europe, Asia and more recently, Africa where it has caught smallholder farmers unprepared.
There are a number of management options that will help to reduce the damage caused by the tomato leaf miner. These include disposing of infested fruit, setting pheromone traps and applying sprays of either biocontrol or a chemical pesticide. To find out more about tomato leaf miners and how these sprays can contribute to their control, read this month’s Plantwise Factsheet for Farmers which was written by an Agriculture Officer from the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives (MAFSC) in Tanzania. Tomato production in Tanzania has been badly affected by the tomato leaf miner. Continue reading →
Here’s a taste of some of the latest stories about plant health, including analysis of the impacts of biotech crops, the role of salt tolerant plants in food production and 6 inventions that can help to prevent harvest loss.