LOCAL researchers have developed a special biopesticide capable of fighting a highly destructive fall armyworm (FAW) pest that threatens food security and livelihoods in the country.
A team of researchers from the Arusha-based Nelson Mandela African Institute of Science and Technology, led by Ms Never Mwambela with support from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), conducted both field and laboratory trials of the biopesticide.
According to Ms Mwambela, the biopesticide is based on fungus called Aspergillusoryzae and is dubbed ‘Vuruga’ due to its ability to destroy fall armyworm.
According to various literatures, biopesticides are certain types of pesticides derived from such natural materials as animals, plants, bacteria and certain minerals.
The researchers’ team leader, who began working on FAW control projects over two years ago as part of her PhD research, first isolated the Aspergillusoryzae fungus, and then injected it into armyworm larvae at its various stages. She then experimented the concentration success in field trials conducted in different locations in the country.
Through the Global Action for Fall Armyworm Control programme, FAO has taken the lead in responding to the pests.
“One of the Global Action’s key components is reducing crop yield losses due to FAW, which can be achieved by getting effective biopesticides to farmers,” says Baitani Mushobozi, a Plant Protection and Integrated Pest Management Specialist at FAO in Tanzania.
According to him, the research by Ms Mwambela and her team, whose trials were conducted in eight regions, was facilitated through a Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP) by FAO, involving the government of the United Republic of Tanzania and the European Union (EU) funded Support Towards the Operationalisation of the SADC Regional Agricultural Policy (STOSAR) project.
Explaining about the Vuruga registration process, Mr Mushobozi said that there was a rigorous procedure of quality assurance for biological control products in Tanzania to ensure quality and safety.