ZNFU forms task force against tomato pest

THE Zambia National Farmers’ Union (ZNFU) has formed a task force to fight the tomato leaf-miner moth, the tuta absoluta, which has invaded crops in Lusaka and Central provinces.
Last week, the ZNFU held a meeting with fruits and vegetables stakeholders to discuss possible ways of containing and controlling the tuta absoluta.
According to the ZNFU Friday brief availed to the Daily Mail yesterday, the task force is expected to engage the Ministry of Agriculture and private chemical suppliers on possible incentives as well as interventions that will result in reduction in the cost of controlling the tuta absoluta.
“The meeting was attended by the Ministry of Agriculture, tomato growers, agro-chemical and seed companies, ZNFU fruits and vegetables commodity committee representatives, among others,” the ZNFU said.
The main focus of the meeting was the formation of the multi-stakeholder task force that will spearhead the strategy to contain, control and prevent further outbreak of tuta absoluta.
ZNFU says some of the resolutions from the meeting are quantification of the affected tomato by farmers reporting through ZNFU and creation of an efficient integrated pest management strategy that includes capacity building programmes.
Another resolution is pushing for mass trapping of the tomato leaf-miner, starting with most affected areas.
This will entail the increased importation of traps by Government, among others.
The task force will include the Ministry of Agriculture, ZNFU’s fruits and vegetables commodity committee chairperson, individual tomato growers, representation from agro-chemical suppliers, the Zambia Environmental Management Agency and Musika,” ZNFU says.
The tuta absoluta is a species of moth in a family of Gelechiidae known by the common names tomato leaf-miner and South American tomato moth.
The pest is well known as a serious pest of tomato crops in Europe and South America.
The leaf-miner larva feeds voraciously on 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.
Currently, about 300,000 tomato growers in Kafue, Chibombo, Chisamba, Mkushi, Kabwe and Lusaka West have been affected by the tuta absoluta invasion.

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