SLU news

Why knowing lots about insects can be really useful – Entomologist visited Sweden

Published: 07 February 2018
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AgriFoSe2030 has recently had another research visit in Sweden, this time from Ethiopia. Tewodros Mulugeta is interested in working with smallholder farmers to provide them with safe and sustainable pest and pathogen management. Read and find out more what he is doing in the programme.

What are you working on in the AgriFoSe2030 programme?

- My major responsibilities in the AgriFoSe2030 programme together with Erik Alexandersson and others are to review literature and write a systematic review on the use of plant strengtheners and botanicals in potato production in sub-Saharan Africa. We’re also busy with writing a policy brief in Amharic (the official working language of Ethiopia) on the importance of using Plant Resistance Inducers (PRIs), in this case phosphite, for safe and sustainable management of a potato disease called late blight and potato tuber moth (an insect considered being one of the major pests for potato crops) in Ethiopia. Furthermore, we are also working together with farmers, extension workers and stakeholders in the management of late blight, by organising field days in Rwanda and Ethiopia to show the potential of botanicals and the phosphite.

Tewodros has a background in entomology (the scientific study of insects) and applied biology and has a PhD in entomology from Addis Ababa University, which was funded through Sweden.

What have you been doing during your visit in Sweden?

-I spent time reviewing literature and other necessary materials and prepared a draft of the review paper on the above mentioned topic. In addition, as a new researcher it was very meaningful to meet with professionals from different research disciplines and familiarizes myself to various research approaches and facilities at SLU.

What are your expectations of what the programme will be working on? What do you think makes the programme important, and why and to whom does it matter?

-As we know the work of the AgriFoSe2030 programme is to support the achievement of food security in low-income countries, in sub-Saharan Africa and South and Southeast Asia; including the strengthening of sustainable agricultural intensification, women and youth involvement in farming, and to create market access and ultimately improve quality of life. In my opinion the programme is very important due to that it advocates for the involvement of smallholder farmers. The smallholders stand for most of the global food production, so by involving them we’re more likely to achieve the target of food security.

– I believe considering women and the youth also makes the programme important. Furthermore, the programme follows a multidimensional approach that is really useful; each theme in the programme tackles different angles and issues around food security. The programme matters to every one of us; government bodies who are involved in policy and decision-making, researchers, extension workers, farmers, the public, development organizations and other developed nations because food insecurity of a region, for example in sub-Saharan Africa, could directly or indirectly affect the whole world.

– Food security is a headache for governments in low-income countries and has been a moving target for so many years. Lack of job opportunities is another problem in low-income countries; and here the agriculture sector can create work, especially for women and youth. As a result migration out of the rural areas could be minimized.

Tell us one thing that you are passionate about related to food security and sustainable agriculture.

-I am passionate about working with and helping smallholder farmers who lack access to any kind of agricultural inputs like fertilizers, agrochemicals, quality seeds, irrigation schemes etc. Farmers who plant what they harvested last season or before that, or buy seeds from markets which are not the adequate seeds for the type of crops they’re planning for. Farmers who totally depend on rain fed cultivation and who, in general, follow very old and traditional ways of crop production.

Interview by Anneli Sundin, AgriFoSe2030 Communication and Engagement.


Contact

Håkan Marstorp, Associate Professor

Theme leader of Theme 3 in AgriFoSe2030
Department of Soil and Environment, SLU 
Box 7014, 75007 Uppsala
Phone:  018-672556
hakan.marstorp@slu.se

 

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