The Kenya Agricultural Livestock and Research Organization (Kalro) is optimistic that management practices aimed at controlling diseases affecting tomatoes will bear fruit.
Kalro’s Director-General Eliud Kireger was speaking at Alupe station in Busia at the end of a six-day training to equip Field Extension Officers with the knowledge to combat pests and diseases that attack tomatoes.
The trained officers were drawn from Mandera, Kajiado, Siaya, Garissa and Elgeyo Marakwet counties known for growing tomatoes.
The pests and diseases identified as common and leads to low yield of exotic vegetable include tomato leaf miner (Tuta absoluta), bacterial wilt, and late blight, tomato yellow leaf, curl virus, whitefly, borers among others.
Tuba absoluta which has been in Kenya for at least four years now is the most common disease that attacks tomatoes.
Although the level of spread of the disease according to Kireger had gone down, he observed that some parts of the country are still being affected by the disease.
“A lot of management practices have been developed to control Tuba absoluta and that is why the levels of spread have gone down but it is still ravaging in some parts of the country,” said Kireger.
Due to diseases, farmers have shied away from planting tomato on a large scale to bridge the huge shortfall the country is experiencing.
The Kenya Agricultural Livestock Research Organization (Kalro) Director-General disclosed that Kenya at the moment does not have enough tomatoes.
Nairobi he said depends on tomato from neighbouring Tanzania. Kajiado is the leading county in terms of tomato farming followed by Kirinyaga.
“Tomato is a sensitive plant that is prone to disease and post-harvest challenges, therefore for a farmer to do large farming they must engage in high-tech techniques to realise high yield,” said Kireger.
He continued, “If the farmers adopt the technologies we have developed they will be able to increase their productivity, income and improve their livelihood.”