Study identifies trees that can be used to protect crops

Dar es SalaamA new study has established the existence of tree species that can be used to kill insects that feed on crops, raising fresh hope in the fight against post-harvest losses among farmers.

Crops such as corn are often attacked by insects after harvest, making post-harvest losses a serious challenge in the agricultural sector.

It is estimated that between 30 and 40 percent of crops are lost in Tanzania after being harvested annually.

It was discovered that some trees located in various areas could kill harmful insects in a short time, while others repel pests.

The research was conducted by Mr. Imani Macha of the Department of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, Mkwawa University College of Education (MUCE), with the aim of reducing post-harvest losses.

Their study was motivated by the fact that there are still some farmers who use pesticides that have been banned by the relevant authorities to kill insects.

Speaking at the 48th Dar es Salaam International Trade Fair, popularly known as Sabasaba, Mr Macha said that through research conducted on 11 types of plants, the focus was on the safety, efficacy and ability of three of them to store crops after harvest.

“There are some plants that can kill insects quickly and their effectiveness is the same as that of industrial pesticides, and we found that some plants do not kill insects but can protect crops from being attacked by insects,” he said.

Mr Macha added that pesticides that do not kill insects have proven effective in scaring them away from crops.

He believes that when the research is completed, it will help people get rid of post-harvest crop spoilage.

According to him, some of the plants that have the ability to kill insects, whose names are best known to people in the southern regions of Tanzania, include Chimuhumbila, Mkungu, Msegesi, Majegejo and Lipuda.

“That depends on the names used by people in the south, but each plant I mentioned there has its own scientific name that is used all over the world,” Macha said.

The executive director of the Kihinga Agricultural Research Institute (Tari) Centre, Dr Filson Kagimbo, said there was a possibility that the plants could kill insects, although he admitted that there were some people who had already conducted research in the area.

“It is possible, and we know people who have done research in this area and their drugs are having good results in the market,” said Dr. Kagimbo.

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