Tuta absoluta is a devastating tomato pest. It was reported to have entered Nepal for the first time in 2016. Because tomatoes are one of the most important vegetable crops in Nepal, iDE and others have undertaken an all out effort to quickly develop and publicize effective control measures. If control measures are not taken, Tuta absoluta will likely cause tomato yield losses in Nepal of up to 80-100% and financial losses of in excess of $50 million USD. In collaboration with experts from the Government of Nepal and others, the IPM-IL and iDE Nepal have developed recommended IPM guidelines and approaches for managing this new infestation.
During the first quarter of 2016, farmers from Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Kavre Districts identified a new tomato pest. A team from IPM-IL and others visited the sites and collected samples. Tuta absoluta lures from Pest Control India were also placed in the infested fields. The number of insects trapped in pheromone traps, their external morphology and damage symptoms all indicated Tuta absoluta. Samples of adult moths and larva were sent to the School of Life Science, Arizona State University. Laboratory tests confirmed the new pest was Tuta absoluta. The Government of Nepal’s National Agriculture Research Center, Khumaltar, independently identified the pest as Tuta absoluta on May 16, 2016.
Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, Kavre and Lalitpur are currently the major districts hit by Tuta absoluta. Distribution has, however, been found across the mid-hill region of Nepal. To date, Tuta absoluta has been identified in approximately 15 districts. Preliminary information suggests 25-30% of tomato crops have been lost in the hardest hit areas. That amounts to approximately a loss of $7,200 a hectare. The threat of spread to the Terai region and other regions in the mid-hills is high in the coming months. Appropriate management will be critical to limit significant future losses.
iDE Nepal is providing training and technical support for developing and promoting IPM solutions for the Tuta tomato pest. iDE Nepal in close coordination with the Department of Agriculture Plant Protection Directorate is conducting verification demonstrations across Nepal’s development regions and working with the private sector to develop supply chains for IPM technologies to address the Tuta pest.
Lalit Sah, IPM Program Coordinator, iDE Nepal
Khyam Narayan Paudel is a commercial farmer who controlled a Tuta outbreak using PCI lures and IPM technologies purchased from a supply chain facilitated by the USAID ENBAITA project.