From May 10-12, a project was launched in Morogoro (Tanzania) to determine the prevalence of harmful vegetable contaminants in Tanzania.
For the first time ever, researchers will collect quantitative data on pesticide residues, heavy metals, human diseases, and plant pathogens on samples of tomato and eggplant being sold in markets and from farmers’ fields.
Significant anecdotal evidence suggests that contamination with inappropriate doses and types of pesticides is widespread. Farm and market visits are planned to determine which pests and pathogens are plaguing farmers fields and leading to the misuse of pesticides.
Based on these findings targeted control interventions will be developed and disseminated that rely on improved cultural and IPM practices.
Field visits will show where dirty water or municipal waste is being used to combat drought and fertility problems but instead are causing poisoning of vegetables with heavy metals, while visits to the markets will point where dirty water for washing and poor sanitation practices of vendors are directly leading to contamination of vegetables with human diseases.
Transfer of human diseases from vegetables is becoming of critical importance now that more vegetables are being eaten raw.
Fen Beed, IITA Pathologist, stated that “this innovative project will benefit from several strategic partnerships and will provide information to drive awareness campaigns of the need to produce and sell vegetables using methods that safeguard consumer safety”.
Profit will drive the acceptance of recommended control interventions and this domain will be characterised by a thorough value chain analysis of vegetables and consumption patterns in rural and urban households. These baseline studies will also characterize rice production systems in order to identify mechanisms to intensify production of vegetables through integration with rice-based systems.
This unique project is funded by the USAID under the Africa Rising project of the Feed the Future initiative in Tanzania. It is being led by the World Vegetable Centre and supported by IITA, Tropical Pesticides Research Institute, Ministry of Agriculture Food Security and Cooperatives; Crop Research, Sokoine University of Agriculture, The Ohio State University and the Africa Rice Centre.
The Africa RISING program comprises three linked research-for-development projects, funded by the USAID Feed the Future Initiative, and aiming to sustainably intensify mixed farming systems in West Africa (Southern Mali and Northern Ghana), the Ethiopian Highlands and East and Southern Africa (Tanzania, Zambia and Malawi).
To produce some short-term outputs and to support the longer term objectives of the projects, in 2012 Africa RISING funded several small, short-term projects in each of the regions. More information.