My idea is entitled “Eco-friendly horticulture through Integrated Pest Management”. I have this idea after doing research (observation) on both conventional farming and organic farming. I studied their strengths and failures through working with conventional horticulture farmers, especially tomato cultivators, in Ilula – iringa region Tanzania in 2017 and organic farmers’ in the western part of Uganda in 2016. I came to know that conventional farmers use a lot of chemicals with the aim of killing crop pests and eradicating diseases, often without knowing the negative impacts to the environment as well as human health. By doing this, conventional farmers attain high yield but with very low quality, while leaving effects on the environment.
On the other hand, pure organic farmers do not use chemicals (fertilizers and pesticides) instead they use organic manures, compost, plant tea and some organic pesticides such as neem, garlic, peppers, use traps and other good agricultural practices to fight pests and diseases. Their aim is to get optimal yield, high quality products for consumers, as well as preserving the environment. However the big challenge in organic farming is how to effectively organically protect crops against pests and diseases. This field still needs more research and improvement simply because the measures which are being used by farmers have less effectiveness to completely protect the crops against pests and diseases. While organic farmers are getting high yield loss due to pests and diseases, studies are showing that organic products are more prone to higher post- harvest losses due to pests and diseases attack . Eco-friendly horticulture becomes the best solution for farmers using chemicals and organic farmers to maximize yield, have better quality produce while preserving our beautiful environment and human health.
Eco-friendly horticulture employs the good agricultural practices that enhance high crop yield while keeping quality without harm to the environment. This system has many benefits to the environment i.e. soils, water, wildlife as well as human beings. Eco-friendly horticulture can only be realized by recommending and implementing integrated pest management practices as super crop protection measure.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a very important part of farming, because weeds, pests, diseases damages can reduce yields or even eliminate crops altogether. Weeds are often the first problem to encounter because weeds will steal light, water, and nutrients. Some weeds are also alternate hosts for pests and diseases, so removing them will reduce the reproduction of pests and diseases within the crop and surrounding area. I believe that IPM preventative management can prevent pests and diseases before they become a problem. The healthier the plant, the less likely pests and diseases will cause harm. In IPM preventative guidelines the following must be put in to practice;
- removing all weeds and alternate hosts to reduce pests and diseases in the area to be planted,
- proper land preparation,
- crop rotation,
- planting live barriers,
- using yellow sticky traps and plastic mulch,
- healthy seedlings – producing our own where possible,
- using resistant varieties and biological control.
IPM management guidelines include good plant density, good water management practices, plant nutrition, proper pest and disease identification, early detection, destruction of diseased plants, scouting, proper use of botanical and other pesticides (certified for use) and have low residual impacts to the environment (as a last resort).
This idea will be implemented (2019 – 2021) and if it gets funding, it will be launched in the high-potential horticultural production zone of Tanzania – Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor (SAGCOT).
This project will benefit all farmers regardless of sex, religion or political ideologies, however it will mostly focus on involving youth and women. Well-trained agriculture experts will train the stakeholders on the benefits of eco-friendly horticulture and integrated pest management aspects of crop protection and other good agricultural practices related to farm planning, crop selection, site selection, harvesting and post-harvesting handling.
The practical training will be in groups of 15 to 20 farmers. Each group will have its demonstration plot for training. By learning about eco-friendly IPM horticulture, all farmers, youth and women in the groups will be trained how to maximize yields while keeping quality of the horticultural products. The knowledge and skills of crop protection IPM will be trained and they will be linked to market or buyers because the products will be of good quality and globally acceptable. National demand exports will be emphasized to earn more money and increase Tanzania farmers life standards. Moreover farmers in the groups will be trained nutritional aspects of horticultural produce as well as environmental conservation aspects in agriculture. After training in demonstration plots farmers will implement the technology in their farming areas so making it sustainable.
Key stakeholders and beneficiaries are all farmers, agro dealers, research institutes, processors, transporters, environment conservation organisations, and consumers. The project is not yet started although some initiatives have been done i.e. partial survey of potential areas of production (SAGCOT) and analysing the challenges of farmers in horticulture sector and that’s when this idea was born in my mind.
Outcomes of this idea will be increased availability of sufficient quality food (zero hunger), positive environmental assessment, agro-ecosystem health, full involvement of youth and women in eco-friendly horticulture combating unemployment and poverty, clean water and sanitation, sustainable marketing for horticultural produce, nutrition-enhancing good health and well-being, and agricultural measures against adversary climate change.
The success will be measured by evaluating the expected outcomes mentioned above by (M & E) team. This idea will have positive social impacts since farmers will receive knowledge and practical skills in eco-friendly horticulture through IPM. The project will provide employment to some qualified Tanzanians, while training entrepreneurship to other Tanzanians. They, in turn, will duplicate the technology to earn more money and employ others hence making a chain which will help to eradicate poverty in future. It is sustainable since youth and women will be given first priority in being full engaged in agriculture and will be trained life skills, decision-making as well as have a positive impact on the national economy.
Geofrey Joel Poteza, Tanzania