Phosphite an alternative to pesticide-A researcher argues during UR Scientific Conference

Research findings have linked Pesticides to a wide range of human health hazards, ranging from short-term impacts such as headaches and nausea to chronic impacts like cancer, reproductive harm. This has spurred a growing interest in phosphite as part the solution to controlling diseases in plants without running for pesticide.

 Dr Tewodros Mulugeta from Ethiopia is one of the academics who made presentations during UR Scientific research conference. Arguably the youngest PhD holder in attendance (recently graduated from Swedish University of Agricultural sciences),Tewodros made a presentation on “The influence of phosphite on P. Infestans and synergism with conventional fungicide in field-grown potato and tomato in Ethiopia”.

 He noted that potatoes are highly nutritive, make billion people feed while the commodity is an income-millions of farmers. Potato is third world consumed commodity after rice, wheat and is followed by maize, FAO (2014). Despite being an important food and cash crop in Ethiopia, he said that potato productivity is still low due to poor seed distribution, susceptible cultivars/high disease pressure limited fungicide alternatives among others. Thus, many farmers find the production impossible without using fungicide or other form of pesticide and chemicals. However, these increase production costs, and those commonly used are considered as environmental and human health hazards.

 In his research, Tewodros recommends the use of phosphites as an alternative to fungicide because the former have low effect on the environment, untargeted organisms and human health. He further noted that he is working hard to recommend the use of phosphite on the plants because pesticides are causing many problems to human and environment and it is the duty of researchers to protect farmers. 

Dr Tewodros during his presentation

 “we need to address the issues by involving other methods that has no effects on environment and human beings and simply reduce the effects”. Tewodros said, adding that it is very pertinent to scaling up the experiment to farmers and make them adopt other alternative methods other than fungicide to boost productivity.

 His take on the conference is that it had a lot of impact and will enable the University of Rwanda to have a lot of collaboration which will ultimately support different areas of development. 

Partcipants in the presentation

 “I have talked with a lot of guys with different discipline, I have seen their commitment and the way we are trying to come up with some kind of collaboration, and it is really a very good start for the University of Rwanda and they should keep doing this as far as they can” He concluded.

 Under the support of UR-Sweden Program for Research, Higher Education and Institutional Advancement for the conference attracted more than 500 academics and researchers from around the globe.


By Darius Murangwa
 Communication Officer