In all horticultural areas in Kenya, synthetic pesticides are widely used.
However, in areas where intensive horticulture is practiced, pesticide application is even more common. In some areas, farmers apply up to 57 and 12 pesticides with different trade names on tomatoes in the open field and greenhouse farms, respectively. These pesticides include Pyrethroids, carbamates, nicotinoids, organophosphates, and organochlorines, among others. The majority of the 20 and 12 pesticides mainly used in open field and greenhouse farms are WHO Class II (60%) and WHO Class III (42%), respectively. The use of these chemicals can have serious health implications due to their toxic residues, which can remain in the crop if used incorrectly. Our main goal is to provide farmers with a safe alternative that does not leave any toxic residues.
Our team is dedicated to developing bio-based solutions that promote plant health and suppress diseases. We are utilizing novel biocontrol agents that have proven effective against a wide range of fungal and bacterial pathogens, while also promoting plant growth and inducing systemic resistance mechanisms. This eco-friendly alternative to synthetic pesticides offers low risk to non-target organisms, is safer for humans, provides options for controlling pests resistant to synthetic pesticides, and meets the stringent chemical residue requirements of premium markets. The development of biopesticides is cost-effective and eliminates residue problems, making them a viable option for farmers to produce fresh fruit and vegetables. Despite their benefits, biopesticides face low farmer adoption due to perceptions of slower pest control and a lack of knowledge. To increase the uptake of biocontrol, we plan to develop next-generation biopesticides using multiple strains for superior pest suppression and engage in knowledge exchange with key stakeholders to accelerate their adoption.