Study to compare the efficacy of different parts of the Neem tree, leaves, bark and fruits for the control of T. absoluta

I am greatly interested in the pest of tomatoes, Tuta absoluta (Meyrick)(Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae), a pest known to cause serious damage and crop loss worldwide. The main mode of control of T. absoluta is chemical control. However, chemicals have a number of drawbacks such as the high cost of insecticides resulting in reduced profit; negative effects on natural enemies and resistance development to pesticides, leading to increased numbers of chemical applications.  Continuous and inappropriate use of chemicals has led to the build up of residues and consequently led to human health problems. In order to overcome such problems bio-pesticides are an effective alternative that can be used for achieving crop protection in Integrated Pest Management systems.

The biopesticide of interest is neem (Azadirachta indica). Neem is common in Zambia and unlike chemicals it does not affect non target beneficial insects, it does not persist in the environment and as a result has no negative effects on the environment. Furthermore it does not cause resistance development because it has different modes of action. My innovation involves the use of neem for the control of Tuta absoluta in field grown tomatoes. This study will compare the efficacy of different parts of the tree; the leaves, bark and fruits for the control of T. absoluta. The different parts of the tree to be used in the study will be prepared by drying, and then grounded into fine powder. Water will be used as a solvent. The efficacy will be evaluated in terms of fruit damage.  The fruits will be harvested at different intervals and sorted into marketable and unmarketable yield based on damaged symptoms of T.absoluta. The weights of each group will be recorded. Data will be analysed using appropriate statistical package. The proposed study will be conducted within eight months. Beneficiaries will be consumers of the pesticide free tomatoes, small scale and commercial farmers.

In my masters research, the efficacy of four commercially available biopesticide formulations, Nimbecidine (Melia Azadirachtin indica), Bio power (Beauveria bassiana), Bio magic (Metarhizium anisopliae), Bio catch (Verticillium lecanii) and an untreated control were compared for the control of T. absoluta under laboratory and field conditions.

The proposed outcome of this idea is that Azadirachtin indica will effectively reduce the impact of T. absoluta and will improve tomato yields.

The positive social impact of this study will be the increased awareness of these bio-pesticides for control of T. absoluta. They will provide a safer alternative for control of T. absoluta and based on the obtained results of the study, the bio-pesticides will be recommended for the control of T. absoluta. Farmers will be encouraged to use these bio-pesticides in controlling T. absoluta in Integrated Pest Management Programmes.

I am passionate about promoting the use of eco-friendly alternatives in contrast to using conventional pesticides for controlling T. absoluta because of the negative effects of chemical insecticides especially on human health. There is no reported resistance development arising from the use of Azadirachtin indica, consequently farmers can use the same bio-pesticide. Further, tomato is an important horticultural crop in Zambia for small and commercial scale farmers and is grown as a cash crop. Most farmers depend on it for their livelihood. The crop is grown almost in every back yard garden in Zambia. The beneficiaries will be consumers of tomatoes, once farmers adopt the use of bio-pesticides, they will be able to buy tomatoes free of chemical residues and this will have a positive impact on human health. Small scale farmers will also benefit because Azadirachtin is easy to prepare, safer, cheaper and readily available to the poor farmers in Zambia.

Emma Mazimba, Zambia

6 comments

  1. Chemical control of plant biotic stress has been used for decades by both small scale and commercial farmers, however, they results have proved disasterous by polluting the environment and increasing resistance against such by the pest Bio-pesticide control is environmentally friendly and cost serving Great idea and piece of work there Congrats

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  2. This is meaningful work. Reducing the synthetic chemical footprint is a very desirable outcome for ourselves and the environment we inhabit. Does this plant have any human medicinal use? Wow…very impressed

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