Insect of the Month: Tomato leafminer, Tuta absoluta
With a gross production value of 5.6 billion USD, tomato is an essential crop for Africa. Besides its nutritional value, tomato offers a reliable source of employment and income to smallholder farmers through domestic and regional trade, especially for women. The tomato leafminer, Tuta absoluta, originates from Latin America and invaded Africa in 2010 through Spain, where it is now present in 31 African countries. In Northern Nigeria, more than 80% of production was lost in 2016, leading to a 10-fold increase in tomato prices, dubbing the invasion as ‘tomato ebola’. Alarmed by rampant spread and the destructive nature of this pest, growers resort to indiscriminate widespread use of broad-spectrum insecticides. icipe is at the forefront of developing an environmentally friendly integrated pest management approach for this pest, based on mass trapping, classical biological control using Dolichogenidea gelechiidivoris and development of fungal-based biopesticides.