Using biological controls to reduce synthetic pesticide usage in Tea Growers nurseries in Kenya


GCRF AgriFood Africa Innovation Awards Round 3





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About the project

UK-registered Partner: Ekaterra Research and Development Ltd – Sally Gibbs
Africa-registered Partner: KALRO- Tea Research Institute – Dr. Evelyn Cheramgoi

The overarching aim of this research is to reduce application of pesticides in Kenya’s tea agriculture sector. This project contributes towards ekaterra’s goal to be synthetic-pesticide free across all its estates by 2025 and to lead other producers (large and small) across the tea industry to do the same.

In this project we investigated feasibility of a holistic approach to propagation of tea cuttings in nurseries, focussed on usage of biological controls for pest management as an alternative to synthetic pesticide application. The work packages summary and outcomes are described below:

  • Understanding main pest issues effecting smallholder tea farmers in Kenya

A survey on pest management practices was conducted with 387 female small holder farmers in Kericho. Helopeltis, weevils and aphids represented the most significant pest issues faced by the small holder farmers. A literature review was conducted focussed on biological controls for the pest issues identified.

  • Holistic approach to pesticide-free tea propagation in tea nurseries in Kenya

Flowering plants and herbs were placed amongst new tea plants in the nursery to act as insect, pest and predator, attractants/repellents. The aim was to investigate whether the flowering plants could pull insects off the tea bushes (attractant) or repel insects from the tea area (repellent).

  • Testing various commercial Trichoderma products as antagonist/control of fungal pathogens for young tea on different tea varieties

KALRO-TRI investigated the efficacy of 4 commercially sourced Trichoderma products alongside their own 3 Trichoderma isolates. Varietal effects were also examined: 38 different tea varieties.

Learn more about the project in this recording from our recent GCRF AgriFood Africa Project Showcase event.


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