Crop Pest Research in the Department of Crop Science and Production.
The Department of Crop Science and Production (DCSP) has been conducting crop pest research for more than 25 years. During this period some of the pest problems on cash and food crops in Tanzania were researched upon and interesting findings have been published in several journals and conference proceedings. Research emphasis has been to formulate a wide range of crop protection packages, appropriate for small scale-farmers. Also, cultivars including beans, which are resistant to pests and have high yield potential, such as the "SUA 90", have been developed and released to farmers.
Pest Research in the Department of Forest Biology (DFB)
Prior to 1950's there were very limited studies in forest protection in Tanzania (then Tanganyika). These studies were necessitated by the emergence in the late 1950?s of new insect pests and diseases which were previously not found in this country. Among the first studies were the survey of forest diseases and injurious timber insects in late 1950s The emergence of new insect pests and tree diseases in recent years has been attributed in part to the disturbance of natural ecosystems by massive clearing of vegetation, and by forest fires. This situation was further aggravated by the general trend in the early 1960's to establish exotic monoculture forest plantations in lieu of natural indigenous plantations. Some of these exotic trees were inadvertently, introduced with their pests which have caused serious damages to forests. For example, certain tree species (e.g. Cupressus macrocarpa, C. lusitanica), and Pinus radiat have been abandoned as plantation trees, due to their high susceptibility to fungal diseases caused by Monochaetia unicornis, Dothistroma pini, and the insect pest Cinara cupressi respectively. Apparently, natural forests are until now refactory to these infections.
To date research activities taken at DFB include:
(i) biology and ecology of the major forest insect pests and diseases,
(ii) studies and investigations on how silvicultural and cultural methods in forest management could limit insect pests, and
(iii) disease incidences and forest health in selected areas.
Breeding for resistance to Dothistroma needle blight and pine woolly aphids was also initiated, however, this activity was discontinued due to paucity of experts, funds, and equipment. It was nevertheless a good starting-point towards the revival of conifers in Tanzania.
Biological control of pests using exotic predators (Tetraphleps raoi, Leucopsis tapiae) and parasitoids (Tamarixia leucaenae and Psyllaephagus yaseeni) has also been tried against pine woolly aphids, and Leucaena psyllid respectively. The later programme is executed by SUA- DFB in collaboration with International Institute of Biological Control (IIBC) and TAFORI under the auspices of FAO. It also covers biological control against cypress aphid using parasitoids (Pauesia spp).
In order to reduce the dangers facing forest crops, long-term research activities must be developed. Since most of the detrimental pests are exotic, classical biological control should be given high priority with an ultimate goal of developing strong operational IPM systems. The translation of research findings into application would be best accomplished through the development within the SPMC of appropriate pest research interests, and specialists.
Pest research in the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (FVM)
Pest research in the FVM has been largely around microbial agents (parasites, bacteria, viruses) which cause diseases in animals and humans and some arthropod ectoparasites of livestock. Although major parasitic disease vectors such as ticks, and tsetse flies have not been researched upon at FVM, some collaboration has existed in the past between FVM and researchers in other institutions such as the Animal Disease Research Institute (ADRI) and the now defunct Livestock Research Organization (TALIRO).
However, since the termination of TALIRO in the late 80s, veterinary pest research in institutions under the ministries responsible for livestock development has continually weakened. Lack of a strong research on arthropods which constitute the major carriers of the microbial agents has been a concern for many years at FVM, and justifies the need for strengthening this important field of pest research within the SPMC.
Research on Rodents: The Rodent Research Project
Rodent research has been a special pest research initiative in FVM. This research developed from what was initially the Belgium - Tanzania Research Project on Rodents as Disease Carriers and Crop Destroyers (1986-1989). This Project later evolved to the current SUA Rodent Research Project (RRP), which has now achieved 'quasi' a permanent status at SUA. Through the 13 years of its existence RRP has created infrastructure, staff, and a number of moderately funded projects, which have addressed different aspects of the rodent-pest problem.
A number of publications have emanated from RRP research activities, since its establishment. The RRP has in addition hosted prominent research scientists and has supported many foreign graduate students in research towards MSc and PhD degrees. The first three Tanzanian students attached to SUA-RRP (an MSc and two PhDs) are expected to complete their studies in the year 2000 and 2001 respectively.
Pest Research in other stakeholders in Tanzania
Following the cessation of Tanzania Agricultural Research Organisation (TARO), and TALIRO research in agriculture and livestock became fragmented and badly co-ordinated. To date only a few institutions are effectively involved in pest research in Tanzania. These include the Tropical Pesticide Research Institute (TPRI) in Arusha, the Animal Disease Research Institute (ADRI) in Dar-es-Salaam, and the Tanzania Forestry Research Organisation (TAFORI) in Morogoro. A number of smaller research centres, which specialise on specific crop and animal pests, have continued to exist, however with questionable sustainability. Collaboration in relevant areas between SPMC and the above mentioned stakeholders shall be prioritized to enable utilization by SPMC of human and material resources already available for pest research activities elsewhere.
One stakeholder of special interest to SPMC is the National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR), which carries out research on priority pests of public health importance in Tanzania. Collaboration between SPMC and NIMR shall focus particularly on pests that are common for animals and humans, or those which transmit zoonotic diseases.