Sokopepe and Kenya Biologics Ltd on February 10, 2017, at Methodist Bio-Intensive Agriculture Training Centre in Meru County strengthened their partnership when the Kenya Biologics Ltd took the Sokopepe team through Trainer of Trainers (TOT) on innovative natural solutions for pest control.
The two companies signed a partnership agreement in December 2016 to help in adoptions of Tuta Absoluta kit and farm records management information System (FARMIS).In addition, the partnership is helping farmers in Meru County to increase productivity and profitability.
Mr. Willis Okwacho, Mount Kenya Region Sales, and Marketing Manager at Kenya Biologics Ltd said that the Bio-Pesticide producing Company supports sustainable food production by providing green, safe, and cost effective farm inputs.
He trained the Sokopepe team on use of TUTRACK innovation, which monitors and controls Tuta Absoluta (Tomato leafminer). Tuta absoluta is a tomato moth that can cause 100 percent loss in tomatoes. The moth hides inside leaves and develops fast resistance in hot climates. It has proven challenging to control.
The pest usually affects both tomatoes in green houses and open fields. Without proper care, a farmer can experience 100 percent yield loss due to Tuta absoluta.
Willis mentioned that the TUTRACK lure contains pheromones, which attract the male Tuta absoluta moth. Once the male is exposed to the pheromone, it follows the source and is led into a sticky trap. This helps to control the pest’s ability to continue multiplying. The mass trapping system consists of TUTRACK lure and a trap. The innovation is unique as the lure is designed for the Kenyan market.
He said that an acre requires 10 TUTRACK traps. The traps are placed not more than 40 cm above ground level as the Tuta Absoluta moth flies low. Farmers can opt for the delta-shaped TUTRACK or its water trap version or a combination of both.
“Effectiveness of chemical control is limited due to insect’s nature of damage as well as its rapid capability of development of insecticide resistant strains,” said Mr. Okwacho.
Sokopepe team being shown how to manage white flies using a yellow trap
He said that Tuta absoluta eggs are just 0.5 mm long. They live on the underside of young leaves or on the stems. A female can lay 260 eggs. The larvae usually feed upon tomato plants. They produce large galleries in leaves. They burrow in stalks and consume apical buds and green and ripe fruits. They are most destructive at larvae stage.
Symptoms of Tuta Absoluta include puncture marks on the surface where the larvae have entered, abnormal shape, exit holes, rot due to secondary infective agents and frass produced at stem nodes where larvae have bored into the stem.
Mr. Okwacho also took the Sokopepe team through use of yellow traps that manage white flies and blue traps for thrips.
Ms. Judith Nkatha, Partnership, and Linkages Officer at Sokopepe said that through the partnership farmers are able to access affordable and efficacious pesticides that do not harm the environment or leave any residue on crops.
She said that Sokopepe is leveraging on partnerships to develop stronger value chains and systems that lead to improved productivity and increased income for smallholder farmers.
She noted that through this partnership farmers are reducing chemical residues on crops, improve pest control, and improve on their farm record keeping data. She said that Sokopepe is happy with the increased extension support by the Kenya Biologics Ltd in urging more farmers to adopt biological pest control.
“We will always embrace partners who bring biological solutions to farmers. We hope this will reduce levels of chemical residues in farm produce,” said Ms. Nkatha.
On his part, Mr Okwacho said that the partnership has helped to increase adoptions of the Tuta Absoluta kit, yellow and the blue traps.
Support for the two companies is by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the Feed the Future Kenya Innovation Engine (KIE).
Biological controls are ecologically sustainable and safe crop protection solutions. They are selective to the pest problem and provide a safer environment for farmers, consumers and the environment
According to the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC), the government of Kenya has put in place elaborate trapping program and pest management that includes integrated pest management, use of traps, introduction of biological control agents and imposition of quarantine in affected areas.