Farmers can now guard their vegetables against destructive pests free of charge by growing one of Mexican malgold species that has been found to repel these crop parasites
Kakamega demonstration show ground’s Kenya Prisons Service officer in charge of farming Fredrick Misoi said a study they started in 2010 has shown that growing Teketes minuta around vegetables can reduce cost of pesticides to zero.
“Inorganic farming is fast being faced out as the market embraces organically produced harvests. In 2010, we set out to find out possible ways of dealing with vegetable pests. We stumbled upon this weed, which we realised is not affected by the destructive organisms.”
“That curiosity is what informed our research and the findings we have today,” the Kakamega Prisons farm supervisor said during 2016’s Agricultural Society of Kenya show.
The officer said the malgold was grown around a plot of about 20 feet by 50 feet in one season. Various vegetables such as black night shade, kales, spinach, spider flower, among others, were grown in lines in the ‘secured’ plot.
During the same season, a separate control experiment was done, where the same crops were grown without the malgold ‘solder’. In between the plots, napier grass was grown as a buffer.
By the end of the study, all vegetables in the control experiment had been reduced to stems. Malgold wadded off the pests. Subsequent trials, Constable Misoi said, have given similar success results.
Crop destruction enemies
Aphids, fruit flies, thrips, moths, among others attack most vegetables by drilling out sap for nutrients.
Onions, peppers, pumpkins, egg plants, beans, tomatoes, courgettes, cabbage, kales, spinach, among other crops surrounded by the soldiers at neighbouring plots of the Kenya Seed Company Limited are free from the pest attack. No pesticide has ever been applied to control the intruders.
“Besides the outside beauty the plant brings to farm with its bright yellow flowers, it will be cute to produce chemical-free yields to compete well at the international markets,” he said.
The European Union, which is Kenya’s biggest horticultural market, does not allow for importation of farm produce with residue surpassing 0.02 parts of chemicals per million.
Some chemical ingredients in pesticides have been linked to cancer in Europe, hence the ban.
Surrounding orchards with the ‘weed’ would help farmers meet the stringent international market regulations as well as cut costs incurred in pest control.
Crashing and spraying of the malgold on crops too effectively controls the pests, he said.