Tuta absoluta is an invasive tomato leafminer native to South America. “The insect affects the ability of thousands, and possibly millions, of small farmers to grow healthy tomato crops,” says Rangaswamy Muniappan, the program’s director. Tuta causes damage primarily to tomato but could also affect other crops, making it a risk to food security and agricultural production in countries where it is found.
According to Douglas G. Pfeiffer, professor of entomology and principal investigator for the program’s project in West Africa, “We now must address how to deal with this pest in our region in an appropriate way. We’ll start with monitoring and educational efforts aimed both at farmers and plant protection specialists.”