Tomato Production Characteristics, Biotic Constraints and their Management Practices by Farmers in Bungoma County, Kenya
Barasa, M. W.
Waceke, J. W.
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Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.) is an important crop in Bungoma County, Kenya. Its production is constrained by arthropod pests and diseases which make farmers rely heavily on synthetic chemicals to control them. To support the development of effective integrated pest and disease management strategies on tomato, a survey was carried out in Sirisia, Bumula and Mt. Elgon sub-counties. A total of 90 randomly selected farmers in the region were interviewed using a structured questionnaire. Data collected included demographic characteristics of farmers, tomato varieties, farm size, prevalence of pests, diseases and their management practices. Majority of the respondents were male with 89.7% in Mt. Elgon. Most of the respondents had primary education. The varieties of tomato grown were Rio-grande, Kilele, Carl-J, Money-maker, Safari and Onyx. The average farm size ranged from 0.25 to 1.0 hectare with 80.4% in Sirisia. Most prevalent pests affecting tomato were Frankliniella occidentalis (58.6%) and Bemisia tabaci (35%) while the most reported disease was Ralstonia solanacearum (75%). The chemicals used against pests included Imidacloprid (24.4%), Alpha-Cypermethrin (20.7%) and Lambdacyhalothrin (20%). Farmers controlled diseases using Metalaxyl-M, Mancozeb, Propineb and Carbendazim. Out of the total ninety respondents in the region, only 2.4% in Sirisia used bio-pesticides. At least 60%, 22% and 20.7% of respondents in Bumula, Sirisia and Mt. Elgon, respectively used more than one chemical. About 10% of respondents in Bumula and 6.9% in Mt. Elgon applied chemicals twice a week. In Sirisia, about 53.6% reported that the chemicals used effectively controlled the pests and diseases compared to Bumula (61%) and Mt. Elgon (58.6%) who reported that they were ineffective. The main source of advice on crop protection was Agrovet shops. The findings revealed that pest and diseases limited tomato production in the region. The study therefore recommends increased awareness on proper use of chemicals and use of safer alternatives such as bio-pesticides to reduce on pesticide residues and the production cost. Future studies on the level of synthetic chemical residues in tomatoes produced in the region should be conducted.