Local pioneers of biocontrol gives hope to horticultural sector in Tanzania

A gleam of hope seems to have finally dawned on the horticulture industry, as a Tanzania’s company has pioneered production and export of biological control agents, thus offering a ray of hope to growers and consumers. The company behind the breakthrough, is none other than, the Multiflower Limited based in Arusha, with a capacity to produce 1200 liters of biocontrol agents per day or 6000 liters per week.

The demand for organically produced horticulture products with tolerable MRLs is increased. A picture of a farmer in Iringa with well treated avocado tree

The Managing Director of Multiflower Ltd, Mr Tjerk Scheltema said that the biocontrol agents are supplied to local flower farms and the surplus of the first consignment was exported to Holland, flying the Tanzania’s profile high in terms of innovation.

The biological control agents include predator mites such as, Phytoseiulus persimillis, Amblyseius swirkii,  Amblyseius montdorensis, Neoseilus californicus and Stratiolaelaps scimitus.

The biological control application in agriculture proves to be beneficial to the environment and human health as it does not cause toxicity to the plants, soil and water,  multiply easily in the soil and leave no residual problem.

The biocontrol agents not only control the disease, but also enhance the root and plant growth by way of encouraging the beneficial soil microflora and increasing the crop yield.

“I’m very greatiful to enable Tanzania for the first time to export biological control agents to international markets” Mr. Scheltema explained.

Challenges on biocontrol agents

Previous in Tanzania, it was very difficult to import and export the biocontrol agents as the registration procedures under the Plant Protection Regulations, 1998 were silent on the process of its registration and exportation. The tight and silent regulations made it challenging for the horticulture companies to produce, register, import or export the plant protection substances even though these companies have the requisite capacity, skills and technology to do so. Very few companies engage in the production of these substances hence, this industry is still at the infant stage

EAT FRESH project farmers in Iringa admiring avocado harvest. The project emphasis on organic approaches to farming avocado

During the COVID 19 pandemic, the demand for organic food soared as consumers perceived them as being healthier and good for immunity. The world has a better appetite for the consumption of organic produce as well as the produce fetch premier prices which is very attractive to farmers. For instance, the global organic farming market is expected to grow from $95.38 billion in 2020 to $103.36 billion in 2022 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.4%.

The demand for organic fruit and vegetables is likely to continue right till the forecast year 2026. The rich nutrition value in organic fruit and vegetables is the main reason why they are in demand in the domestic as well as global market.

Since, Chemical pesticides have proven largely ineffective in controlling pests, and are also prohibitively expensive and potentially harmful to human health, soil, water quality and biodiversity, most horticultural are shying away from the use of chemicals to biopesticides.

Collaboration among the stakeholders

Through collaborative efforts among various stakeholders including the Netherlands Embassy in Dar es salaam and  Tanzania Horticultural Association (TAHA), the Government of Tanzania have been engaged through the Ministry of Agriculture in a effort to strengthen the pest control systems in Tanzania including capacity building of the plant health inspectors on phytosantiry measures.

Observing the good insects under the lens at Multi flower laboratory - Regional Agricultural Coucellor for Tanzania and Kenya- Mrs. Ingrid Korving

Through the Technical Expertise from the Biological Control Agents Sub-committee (BCAS), Plant Health Services and Parliamentary Committee Members in charge of Agriculture, Livestock and Water agenda is being pushed for a need to revise the Plant Health Regulation, 1998 and come up with an up-to-date regulation that incorporates modern technologies.

It is still dawning for the new approaches on pest management while interest and demands for biological control is increasing both locally and globally. To remain competitive on the sector the public machinery has to keep up with this reality and fast track the required regulatory proceses which will incorporate the technologies.

More information: For more information on Integrated Pest Management (IPM) please contact directly Mr. Tjerk via tjerk@multiflower.co.tz

The Embassy provides regular updates on developments in the agriculture sector. To receive the updates follow us on our twitter account @NLAgriTanzania and subscribe to our newsletter by sending an email to dar-lnv@minbuza.nl.