Bioecology of some key cashew insect pests and diseases in diverse habitats and landscapes in Tanzania



Cashew (Anacardium occidentale) is an economically important cash crop for many rural households in Tanzania. However, its production is constrained by some insect pests and diseases. As a prerequisite for the development of a more sustainable integrated insect pest and disease management strategy for cashew, information on the biology and ecology of the key insect pests and diseases in a changing environment, and on influencing biotic and abiotic factors, is needed. Surveys were conducted in the major cashew nut-producing areas of Tanzania for two seasons: August to December, 2009, and August to December, 2010. Data on number of infested and infected shoots by key insect pests and diseases, natural enemies and associated farmer practices, namely synthetic pesticide use and intercropping systems, were collected from different subzones within agroecological zones. Our data showed that abundance and diversity of key cashew insect pests and diseases were influenced by agroecological zones and subzones. Intercropping was more commonly practised in the northern than in the southern zone. Agrochemicals were most frequently used in the southern agroecological zone and affected the occurrence of natural enemies, notably the weaver ant that was more abundant in the northern zone. Furthermore, our findings revealed that Helopeltis sp. and the powdery mildew remained the major constraints to cashew nut production in Tanzania.