Nawa Likando Zambia

Managing a notorious tomato pest in an environmentally friendly way

"When I enter my garden and see my plants not doing well – even a single plant – I get sick too."

Nawa Likando is a vegetable grower in the Livingstone District of Zambia. She started growing vegetables in her back yard in 2014 and now boasts of being the only female vegetable grower and supplier in Zambia’s Southern and Western Provinces.  

Nawa sees having healthy plants as the key to a successful business and likens vegetable production to taking care of a baby. Just like a mother whose child is sick gets affected, that is how I feel when I enter my garden and see my plants not doing well – even a single plant – I get sick too,” she says. 

To ensure her plants are healthy, Nawa pays particular attention to land preparation – before planting, she treats the soil to get rid of nematodes and adds cow dung manure to boost soil fertility.  

She also underlines the critical importance of pest management in growing healthy plants, using the example of the tomato leaf miner (Tuta absoluta), a notorious pest affecting tomatoes that was first detected in Zambia in 2016The larva of this moth attacks seedlings, mature plants and fruits and can cause up to 100 percent crop loss, leading to devastating economic impacts among tomato growers. 

To combat tomato leaf miner, Nawa only sprays chemicals as a last resort. Instead, she prefers a much cheaper and environmentally friendly pest control technique: the use of improvised pheromone traps. She fills yellow, 20-litre containers (commonly available on the market) with water, into which she hangs a pheromone-impregnated lure to attract pests. The pests then fall inside, which leads to a reduction in their population. 

With this technique, Nawa’s clients have also learnt how to cheaply control Tuta absoluta and they in turn have taught others, leading to widespread adoption of pheromone traps. In total, Nawa has already trained around two thousand farmers and she has no intention of stopping. 

I want to continue educating my clients on how to manage Tuta absoluta and many other pests in an environmentally friendly way.”