Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.) is considered to be a top priority crop and it is the main income generating vegetable in Uganda. It is grown and consumed all over the country. Tomato production faces a major constraint of late blight, a fungal disease caused by the fungus Phytophthora infestans which leads to reduced yield of the crop thus limiting its production. It is therefore on this note that I gained interest in formulating an organic pesticide to control the fungus. The azadinona extract is a pesticide formulated from Neem (Azadirachta indica) and soursop (Annona muricata) leaves which contain azadirachtin and squamocin respectively; and these active ingredients are known to have antifungal components that can thus be used in the control of late blight of tomato.
This organic formulation is expected to be environmentally friendly that is to say, it will have no residual effect on the environment since it is readily biodegradable. The pesticide also has no phytotoxic properties hence making it safe for the consumers of the tomatoes as compared to the inorganic pesticides such as dithane M-45. The neem and soursop leaves are readily available in most communities in Uganda thus making it easy for most farmers to prepare the formulation for use in their gardens. This pesticide is also expected to be much cheaper compared to the inorganic pesticides thus making it easy for the rural peasant farmers to increase production of their tomatoes at a reduced cost of production. Lastly, this pesticide does not require a lot of knowledge and skill and equally restrictions during its preparation as well as application thus making it easy to use for the farmers who are illiterate to use the technology.
To achieve more innovative practices and approaches in sustainable crop protection, I intend to do more research and get trainings on crop pests and diseases as well as the best and most feasible sustainable crop protection approaches specifically laying much emphasis on organic control approaches. To develop this idea in sustainable crop protection I intend to carryout experimental trials in demonstration plots to obtain accurate results and then disperse this knowledge/idea to tomato farmers in my community through training individual farmer groups as well as through use of media like radio stations to reach out to more farmers on the steps involved in making the pesticide, as well as the frequency of application and expected results.
This organic pesticide is expected to have a number of social economic impacts and these include: increased production of tomatoes and other solanaceous plants due to the reduced incidence of the blight disease thus increasing farmers’ income; poverty eradication among the rural communities, 80% of which are farmers, due to increased sale of the tomatoes; employment opportunities for other members of the community in the production of the pesticide as well as on the tomato farms and finally skill development in organic crop pest and disease control among the farming communities in my country starting from my home district, Gulu.
The beneficiaries of this idea will be the farmers in my community especially the tomato farmers who will have a long lasting, affordable and readily available solution to the main and most pressing constraint to tomato production in Uganda. The consumers of tomatoes in my community will also benefit from the safe, chemical free tomato fruits that they will purchase from the farmers who will have adopted this idea.
My greatest motivation in coming up with this idea is to create a difference in my community especially among the rural peasant farmers who are trying to make a living from growing solanaceous plants like tomatoes and potatoes, since they are more valuable vegetables by availing them with an affordable and readily available technology. Furthermore, my passion in ensuring that our environment remains sustainable for the generations to come as well as reducing the impact of chemical/ inorganic pesticides on the health of consumers of agricultural products especially solanaceous plants which are widely consumed in almost every household in my country has also prompted me to try out this idea and put it to practice. My gain from this idea is that it will give me an opportunity to make my first publication on organic crop protection and also give me a chance and platform to interact with other leaders in crop protection as well as bring a positive change in the lives of rural farmers in my community. My community will gain from this idea through improved production of solanaceous plants hence increased household income for the farming communities and thus improved livelihoods.
Atimango Alice Onek, Uganda