Protecting tomatoes from pests

Organic pest control in Kenya and Uganda


In Kenya and Uganda, the damage caused by the Tuta absoluta moth has destroyed up to 80% of family farmers’ tomato harvests in recent years. Tomatoes help most families secure their nutritional needs because they provide valuable vitamins, minerals and amino acids. For many households, selling tomatoes is also an important source of income. Losing a harvest is lost threatens the livelihoods of these people. The indiscriminate use of synthetic insecticides endangers human health and the environment. Moreover, many farming families cannot afford these control measures or apply them improperly.

Biovision is therefore supporting the insect research institute icipe in Kenya in its research on biological, cost-effective and integrated control methods. As project locations, Kenya and Uganda both have numerous ecological zones, which offer diverse test environments. If the first test phase in these countries is successful, the project will be extended to other affected countries.

Two researchers are multiplying parasitic wasps.
In order to secure the tomato harvest in Kenya and Uganda, researchers at icipe are developing a tailor-made package for integrated pest control. One of the products is a specially developed biopesticide.


Tomatoes are one of the most economically valuable vegetables in the world. In the project areas, tomato cultivation also serves a social purpose. Around 80% of the labor force are women, who secure a solid livelihood for themselves and their families by cultivating tomatoes.

The tomato leafminer Tuta absoluta is the biggest pest threat to tomato crops not only in Africa, but also in Europe and Asia. Research about sustainable pest control is therefore of global relevance.



Around 5,000 people in the project areas benefit directly. Most of these are tomato farmers, as well as around 100 agricultural advisors, quarantine officials and students who collect data.

Through the desired effect of an increase in yield, around 2,500 agricultural workers benefit indirectly from a higher workload, indirectly benefitting 6,500 tomato sellers.


Goals of the current project phase

The overall goal of the project is to develop and promote sustainable, environmentally friendly and integrated pest control to contain the Tuta absoluta moth. This is to be achieved through three sub-goals:

  • Carrying out a socio-economic baseline study that will provide information on the social impact of moth infestation and the potential future prospects of integrated pest control.
  • Developing structures and procedures for integrated pest control by increasing knowledge about the mass breeding of beneficial insects, developing biopesticides, and validating field methods.
  • Raising awareness and building and transferring knowledge about Tuta absoluta control through training courses on greenhouse hygiene and infestation monitoring, workshops for agricultural advisors, and the distribution of information material.



Integrated pest control aims to sustainably improve the livelihoods of the project beneficiaries. The methods should lead to higher quantity and quality yields, thus increasing the farming families’ incomes. The beneficiaries experience evident success and, as experts, become the driving force behind biological pest control. By reducing the use of synthetic pesticides, the quality of water and arable land will improve in the long term. This has a positive impact on the ecosystem and biodiversity.



  • The moth tuta absoluta is able to destroy the complete tomato harvest.
  • A researcher is investigating the breeding of beneficial insects.
    The International Insect Research Institute in Nairobi (Kenya) has identified a beneficial insect to combat the moth.
  • Three tomato plants in red pots.
    The tomato is an economically important vegetable.