Ms. Never Zekeya is a PhD student at the School of Life Sciences and Bio-engineering at the Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology (NM-AIST). Her research is funded by the Africa Centre for Research, Agricultural Advancement, Teaching Excellence and Sustainability (CREATES). She has developed a formulation of a fungal based bio-pesticide (FBB) for management of Tomato Leafminer (Tuta absoluta).

Tomato Leafminer is a highly destructive pest to tomato plants and fruit. Tuta absoluta has been resistant to many pesticides.  Zekeya’s formula was tested against Tuta absoluta under the field conditions in three major tomato growing regions of Tanzania namely Arusha, Iringa and Morogoro.

“I was happy that during trials tests, the new formula coming in both liquid and powder forms, not only can kill the Tuta absoluta but is also effective in annihilating the equally deadly pesticide-resistance army worms that are also wreaking havoc in farms”, said Ms. Zekeya.

Prof. Hulda Swai the Centre Director of the CREATES assured her of her full support and acknowledged the hard work and dedication she put in.

“As a Centre of Excellence our duty now is to continue supporting all our students who have come up with these useful products by establishing an incubation facility here at the NM-AIST for the purpose of inspiring and supporting them to grow their innovations to prototype and finally spin-off and industrialize the country. These potential industries/businesses will create jobs, products and eventually support the economy,” said Prof. Swai

The general objective of Ms. Zekeya’s research was to study the occurrences, seasonal variation of tomato leaf miner, T.absoluta and develop a sustainable managerial strategy against it especially for small holder farmers who depend on tomatoes for their income and nutrition in Tanzania.

The overall objective of the CREATES is to strengthen the capacity of NM-AIST to serve as an African Centre of Excellence for provision of unique post graduate training (Master’s, PhD and Post Doc), applied research and outreach programs for Food and Nutrition Security in the Eastern and Southern Africa region.