White fly trapping gel halves vegetable pesticide use

A Nairobi-based international agribusiness inputs firm has introduced a yellow gel trap that is helping vegetable farmers save up to 50 per cent the amount spent on controlling crop sap sucking white flies.

Amiran Kenya Agronomist Timothy Munywoki said Amarilo gel, which is applied on a polythene sheet arrests the insects, therefore, reducing chemical application in crop pest control.

“The world is moving to production with minimal or no chemicals. That is why the yellow gel has been designed to limit chemical contact with crops during production. Reduced chemical use in production is the formula of penetrating export markets like the European Union,” Munywoki said.

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White flies attack cabbage, citrus, oranges, kales, tomatoes, pepper, capsicum, eggplant, okra, sweet potatoes, among other crops.

The gel is pasted on any thick polythene sheet of about five feet by two feet before hanging close to the crops.

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Colour deceives

Munywoki said insects are attracted by bright insects.  The ‘shouting yellow’ colour attracts white flies to land on the glue-like gel, where they starve to death.

The paste is applied on both sides of the sheets, which are placed at intervals of about three metres along the lines.

“It may not control all the white flies especially those that will not ‘see’ it, but it reduces by almost half the amount of money a farmer could have spent in controlling the pests,” the agronomist said.

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Thousands of the white flies were stuck on each of the four sheets in the company’s tomato demonstration farm in Nairobi.

More other flying insects passing by the tomatoes were stuck on the large surfaces of the sheets.

In controlling white flies in an 8m by 15m tomato greenhouse, a farmer requires one kilogramme of a pesticide like Bio T Plus, which costs Sh4,100 for about eight months. It is applied per week.

Over the same tomato lifetime, a farmer will spend Sh1,870.

Effects on yield and export market

White flies drill and suck the cell sap of most horticultural crops causing folding and yellowing of the leaves, which reduce surface area for photosynthesis.

Since affected leaves cannot manufacture enough food for the plant, harvests may drop by half depending on the severity of the attack.

Farmers fight pests by applying more pesticides. But Kenyan’s biggest consumer of horticultural products, the European Union, bars goods containing more than 0.02 chemical parts per million.

READ ALSO: How grafting can help citrus farmers beat EU chemical regulations

That gives farmers practicing integrated pest management an upper hand in accessing these export markets.

PHOTO: Amiran Kenya Agronomist Timothy Munywoki shows thousands of stuck white flies on the yellow painted polythene sheet on August 4, 2016. The gel controls 50 per cent white flies on vegetables, hence reducing pesticide costs to farmers. PHOTO BY LABAN ROBERT.

Munywoki can be reached on +254728853914