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Archive for the ‘Technology transfer’ Category

Cross-Border Technology Transfer: Biological Control of the Fall Armyworm in Asia and Africa

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Integrated Pest Management Innovation Lab

Jul 15, 2019

Fall Armyworm
The fall armyworm’s entry into Africa in 2016, and its more recent entry into Asia, has farmers unnerved with its resilience to most control methods.

This post was written by Sara Hendery.

The fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) is becoming a household name around the world, but not for good reasons – the pest, native to the tropical and subtropical Americas, devours over 300 plant species, including maize, which feeds millions of people every day. In Africa alone, the fall armyworm has already caused nearly $13.3 billion in crop losses in just three years. Resilient to most pesticides and harsh climates, the pest has shown no signs of yielding since its arrival in Nigeria in 2016.

The Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Integrated Pest Management (IPM Innovation Lab) projects that a chemical-free solution is key to long-term management of the fall armyworm. In Niger in July, the team will help support a training focused on biological control of the invasive pest hosted by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), University of Maradi in Niger, and the National Institute for Research on Food and Nutrition (INRAN). The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), the CGIAR Research Program on Grain Legumes and Dryland Cereals, and the Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) Sorghum and Millet Compact are also supporters of the training.

The IPM Innovation Lab will be sending participants from Cambodia, Vietnam, Nepal, and Bangladesh to attend the training in Niger in an effort to catalyze cross-continental knowledge and information exchange. Also in attendance will be participants from Ghana, Togo, Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Benin, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Cameroun, Sudan and Niger.

“Maize is a staple crop in both Africa and Asia,” said Muni Muniappan, Director of the IPM Innovation Lab. “Biological control offers an economically and environmentally friendly approach to combatting the fall armyworm and the technology is easily transferrable to more than one country and continent. It’s important that in already fragile economic situations, we introduce options that are truly viable.”

In 2018, in collaboration with ICRISAT and the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe), the IPM Innovation Lab helped find two natural enemies of the fall armyworm, Telenomus and Trichogramma, which attack the eggs of the pest. Telenomus and Trichogramma populations are low early in the season, hence, mass production and timely release of the natural enemies will suppress the pest throughout the cropping season.

The training will cover status and identification of the fall armyworm, mass production of both Telenomus and Trichogramma, best laboratory practices, scouting for egg and larval natural enemies in the field, and field release. Also covered will be case studies of successful biological control, especially the case of using natural enemies against the pearl millet head miner in the Sahel and the case of using classical biological control against the papaya mealybug.  

Due to the fall armyworm’s unique ability to burrow inside the whorl of plants, conventional pesticides, which are already costly, are not practical options. The pest moves quickly – two or three generations of the pest can feed off a single crop during a growing season before moving on, and a female can lay 1,000 eggs during her lifetime. Smallholder farmers, many of whom live and work on less than an acre of land, are especially vulnerable to the pest’s attack.

“By the end of the training we expect participants to master how to scout for fall armyworm parasitoids and how to mass rear and release Telenomus and Trichogramma,” said Malick Ba, principal scientist at ICRISAT. “They should be able to establish cultures of natural enemies back home for use in their own biological control programs.”  

The same natural enemies of the fall armyworm occur in both Asia and Africa. A major component of the Niger training will be preparing and guiding participants on how to garner support for scaling up biological control programs in their respective countries.

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Digital Engagement and Training Helps Increase Agro-Dealer and Farmer Knowledge on Integrated Pest Management in East Africa

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Integrated Pest Management Innovation Lab

Aug 19, 2021

A group of people training with the Tanzanian Agricultural Research Institute (TARI)

This post is written by Sara Hendery, communications coordinator for the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Integrated Pest Management

Given Tanzania’s diverse geographical landscape, it’s no surprise the country is among the world’s top 20 producers of vegetables. Nevertheless, farmers remain in search of ways to combat the pests and diseases that threaten crop yields every season.

Results of a survey conducted by Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Integrated Pest Management partners at the Tanzanian Agricultural Research Institute (TARI) show that the majority of Tanzanian farmers receive key knowledge on how to manage pests and disease not only from extension personnel, but often from agricultural supply dealers, or agro-dealers. While agro-dealers do carry valuable information, resources and inputs, the survey also shows that many agro-dealers have limited formal knowledge on vegetable production or protective measures for applying chemical pesticides.

To address these gaps, TARI began providing cohesive training to agro-dealers, farmers and extension officers on vegetable production and pest and disease management. Training covers such areas as Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs), Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and safe handling and use of agricultural inputs, including pesticides. Thus far, 500 participants have been trained in the Coast and Morogoro regions. The GAP training in particular helps farmers build capacity in reporting and record-keeping, assessing input quality and crop hygiene, and training in IPM provides information on bio- and botanical pesticides, pruning, developing seedlings in a nursery environment and how to apply pesticides with minimal body exposure.   

“Knowing that farmers receive their pest and disease management knowledge from agro-dealers provides us important insight into how to best reach farmers with up-to-date information,” said Dr. Fred Tairo, principal agricultural research officer at TARI-Mikocheni. “If we want farmers to adopt sustainable, climate-smart and productive inputs that might be outside of their typical use, an important pathway to reaching them is through the people that farmers already trust and are familiar with.” 

In a group of 69 agro-dealers surveyed, only 49 were registered and licensed to run agricultural shops. The 20 unregistered participants had received no formal training in crop production or pesticide safety and use, and most participants not only had no prior knowledge on how to dispose of expired pesticides, but did not sell bio-pesticides or chemical pesticide alternatives at their shops. Since registering as an agro-dealer can cost nearly $200, TARI is collaborating with the Tropical Pesticides Research Institute (TPRI), a regulatory authority for pesticides in Tanzania, to consider lowering the costs.  

TARI and the IPM Innovation Lab are increasing communication through digital platforms to reach more agricultural actors with safe and effective approaches to pest and disease management. A Kiswahili-based (Swahili) WhatsApp group named “Kilima cha Mboga kisasa,” or modern vegetable cultivation, currently shares information with 154 farmers, extension agents and agro-dealers in Tanzania who can use the app to cite crop threats and receive expert management guidance in return.

Participants post a picture or video of the crop problem for immediate diagnosis. Not only do agro-dealers in the group directly learn about farmers’ most pressing problems, but they can use the platform to market agri-inputs, including the IPM products they learn about through the platform. 

“Even if members of this group do not necessarily follow up with formal training we offer, this is a low-stakes knowledge-sharing space that they can be a part of and receive guidance from,” Tairo added. 

To increase access to information and inputs, the IPM Innovation Lab is also collaborating with Real IPM, a private company based in Kenya that develops low-cost biological and holistic crop solutions available in Kenya and Tanzania. In just one year, the company has provided training to thousands of farmers in seven counties in Kenya by targeting farmer groups, the majority of which are made up of women. Real IPM has developed training manuals on IPM, a WhatsApp group for crop health assistance and a free web portal for diagnosis and IPM recommendations of specific crop threats. 

“Our goal is to make IPM solutions more accessible,” said Ruth Murunde, research and development manager at Real IPM. “When you enter a pest or disease into our web portal, those images, diagnosis and IPM recommendations stay posted. We know that many farmers are experiencing similar issues to one another and collective action against crop threats is an effective way to combat them more long-term.”

While technology constraints remain — including smartphone, internet and electricity access — making learning spaces available for a range of crop production actors is critical to adoption of sustainable, effective farming solutions. 

Currently, the Real IPM database hosts over 7,000 participants and has collected over 200 infected crop images.

“The Real IPM technical team is actively working to support farmers by providing biopesticides as a solution for mitigating pests and diseases on vegetable crops to ensure sustainable agriculture for smallholder farmers,” added Murunde. “Our information networks help disseminate best practice methods for using those tools.”  

For more information on IPM training or Real IPM products, contact saraeh91@vt.edu.

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Saturday, 27 November 2021 17:37:00

Grahame Jackson posted a new submission ‘News from PestNet’

Submission

News from PestNet

Hi Everyone

We are excited to tell you that PestNet has joined forces with the Pacific Pests, Pathogens & Weeds app (compiled by PestNet). It seemed sensible to put these two Pestnet endeavours together. Some time ago, we mentioned that the website had been redesigned to reflect the changes; now we have completed the amalgamation with new mobile apps. 

You can see the changes if you visit the website here. And you can download the new mobile apps by searching for “PestNet” or “Pacific Pests, Pathogens & Weeds” from the Google and Apple stores.

Hope you like the changes!

All the best

PestNet Moderators


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October 7, 2021

Laura Hollis

No Comments

Watch the PlantwisePlus Launch Video

This week saw the digital launch of CABI’s new global programme – PlantwisePlus. The online event featured presentations from both CABI representatives as well as partner organisations, including FAO and the governments of Kenya and the Netherlands.https://www.youtube.com/embed/YwglWPNK1m0?feature=oembedPlantwisePlus launch video

The event was an opportunity to highlight the impact CABI’s Plantwise and Action on Invasives programmes have had since launching in 2011 and how PlantwisePlus aims to build on those achievements.

Contributors to the event included:

– Dr Daniel Elger, Chief Executive Officer, CABI

– Dr Ismahane Elouafi, Chief Scientist, FAO

– Prof Hamadi Boga, Permanent Secretary at the Kenyan Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries

– Astrid Mastenbroek, Senior Policy Advisor on Food and Nutritional Security at the Netherlands Minsitry for Foreign Affairs

– Dr Ulrich Kuhlman, Executive Director of Global Operations, CABI

– Dr Dennis Rangi, Director General for Development, CABI

In his welcome address, CABI’s CEO Daniel Elger spoke of the knowledge and experience that underpins CABI’s work in solving problems in agriculture and the environment.

“That’s why CABI is so well positioned to deliver a global programme that will make a significant impact, helping smallholder farmers to have increased incomes and grow safer and higher quality food through sustainable approaches to crop production.”

Daniel Elger, Chief Executive Officer, CABI

Dr Ismahane Elouafi, FAO Chief Scientist, spoke of the challenges facing plant health and global food systems. In her presentation, Dr Elouafi emphasised the importance of stakeholder development programmes such as PlantwisePlus in tackling the challenges facing agri-food system.

“These programs had improved farmers yields, so there is more food and more income for rural communities. …  FAO has collaborated in many areas with CABI in the past and we look forward to working with CABI again with their PlantwisePlus programme.”

Dr Ismahane Elouafi, Chief Scientist, FAO
PlantwisePlus launch
Female farmer © CABI

Professor Hamadi Boga, Permanent Secretary at the Kenyan Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries spoke of the impact Plantwise has had in Kenya over the last ten years. Pests and diseases are major obstacles to productivity among Kenyan farmers. Since 2011, the Kenyan government has been working with Plantwise to address these challenges.

“Workers have up-to-date information and, the platform that has been created out of this project, will guarantee success and increase productivity and higher income for farmers.”

Professor Hamadi Boga, Permanent Secretary at the Kenyan Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries

Astrid Mastenbroek, Senior Policy Advisor on Food and Nutritional Security at the Netherlands Ministry for Foreign Affairs explained why the Netherlands government-supported Plantwise in the past and will be supporting PlantwisePlus going forward.

“We expect that PlantwisePlus will contribute significantly to sustainable agricultural development … we look forward to the successful delivery of this programme.”

Astrid Mastenbroek, Netherlands Minsitry for Foreign Affairs

CABI’s Executive Director of Global Operations, Dr Ulrich Kuhlman, is also the new PlantwisePlus Programme Executive. Dr Kuhlman provided an outline of PlantwisePlus including the challenges the programme seeks to address and the outcomes being worked towards.

Dr Kuhlman gave details on the four focus areas for the new programme: (a) strengthening detection of and response to pest outbreaks; (b) providing public and private agricultural service providers with better digital advisory tools to support farmers in sustainable crop management; (c) enhancing the availability of nature-positive and low-risk plant protection products to reduce reliance on high-risk farm inputs; (d) increasing consumer demand for and supply to local markets of safer, higher quality and locally produced food.

Attendees were invited to participate in a question-and-answer session with the PlantwisePlus global team leaders: Claire CurryDr Monica KansiimeDr Ivan Rwomushana and Dr Belinda Luke. They were joined by Dr Wade Jenner, Deputy Programme Executive for PlantwisePlus.

The event ended with a closing statement from CABI’s Director General for Development, Dr Dennis Rangi. Dr Rangi thanked the donors for their contributions to the event.

“PlantwisePlus is a programme built on partnerships and it is precisely this spirit of collaboration that we have experienced today that will ensure the success of the programme.”

Dr Dennis Rangi, Director General for Development, CABI

The e-launch is now available online: watch the PlantwisePlus launch

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Registration is open for the IPPC webinar series on Fall Armyworm Training Material

Posted on Mon, 27 Sep 2021, 16:16Responsive image

IPPC Secretariat invites interested users to register for the “Fall Armyworm Training Material: FAO/IPPC Prevention, Preparedness, and Response Guidelines for Spodoptera frugiperda webinar series. (Please register individually for all three sessions in the series)

Webinar 1: 22 October 12:00-13:30 (CET) Register here

Content: Introduction, General launch and guidelines presentation, including FAW distribution and biology

Webinar 2: 19 November 12:00-13:30 (CET) Register here

Content: Fall Armyworm Prevention and Preparedness (When FAW is still absent from a country)

Webinar 3: 10 December 12:00-13:30 (CET) Register here

Content: Fall Armyworm Response and Communication (When FAW has been officially detected and confirmed by a country)

Webinars are addressed to Quarantine and biosecurity experts, NPPOs and RPPOs staffs, researchers supporting NPPOs, producer associations, technical assistance organizations, manufacturers of technical means of control, and surveillance.

The webinar will be held in English with simultaneous interpretation into French and Arabic.

To consult the detailed program and more information, please visit: https://www.ippc.int/en/news/workshops-events/webinars/fall-armyworm-faw-training-part-1-22-october-part-2-19-november-and-part-3-10-december/…..

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Africa Develops Mobile App To Support Farmers Against Pests

 Arsalan Ahmad newsresearchTechnology 

A mobile phone app – launched today by an international team of scientists – will support farmers across Africa to adopt environmentally friendly ways of protecting their crops from pests.

African smallholder farmers face major challenges from weeds such as striga and insect pests such as fall armyworm. Fall armyworm is a serious threat to food security and livelihoods and already affects at least 400,000 hectares, causing crop losses worth an estimated $3 billion a year.

But a solution exists – ‘push-pull technology’ – and it avoids the need to use harmful and expensive chemical pesticides.

Push-pull technology is a scientific method of planting crops such as maize and sorghum alongside particular species of forage grasses and legumes, which repel pests and supress weeds to support farmers.

The method was developed by scientists at the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe) in Kenya with partners and is designed to protect the plants against devastating pests like the fall armyworm and the striga weed, with the companion plants also improving soil fertility.

But a major challenge is how to communicate advice and information about this crop management technique to millions of smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa. To help address this challenge, a new mobile phone app – called Push-Pull – has been launched by Agape Innovations Ltd, in collaboration with a team of scientists from the University of Leeds, Keele University and icipe.

The app is part of a larger project called ‘Scaling up Biocontrol Innovations in Africa’ funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), which seeks to understand how biocontrol methods have been used across Africa and to encourage their uptake. The project involves a cluster of previous GCRF-funded research programmes, including the Leeds-led AFRICAP project.

Principal Investigator Dr Steve Sait, from Leeds’ School of Biology, said: “The push-pull method of pest control is decades old and is used successfully by thousands of smallholder farmers across Africa.

“We hope that this collaboration, and this new app, can help us extend knowledge of this technique to potentially millions of other farmers who could be benefitting from it. Compared to chemical pesticides, push-pull costs less money to support farmers, results in less damage to their crops, and it avoids harming other insect species that play valuable roles in the ecosystem.

“We consulted widely with farmers in Kenya and I’m excited to see how their contribution has made the app user friendly and could lead to more uptake of push-pull farming.”

Research by the scientists behind the push-pull technique has proven that odours released by the companion plants can effectively repel fall armyworm and protect crops against the pest.

Early adopter farmers have had great success with the technique, reporting five times less fall armyworm damage and a doubling or even tripling of crop yield, showing the huge potential this has for farmers and crop-producing smallholders. It also reduces the environmental impact of farming by protecting against pests without using pesticides, as well as improving soil quality without inorganic fertilisers.

Improving food security


The Push-Pull app, which has launched today, has been developed by Agape Innovations and is available on Android phones. It has been designed to work on the basic smartphones that are being increasingly used by smallholder farmers in Africa. It gives farmers information they need to get started with push-pull farming, and is not only free but will work offline, meaning a lack of internet connection in rural regions will not affect its function.

The ultimate goal is to provide a resource for support farmers that is informed by science, protects their crops and improves their harvest, which they can access any time of day from anywhere in the world.

Paul Mugisha, CEO of Agape Innovations Ltd, said: “With the world going digital and uncertainties like Covid-19 amplifying the challenges of physical interactions, ICT is so vital in today and tomorrow’s agriculture.

“At Agape, we built the Push-Pull app as a global tool to equip a farmer with all that is needed for a successful push-pull garden. Embedded with audio, visual and graphical expressions we are certain that the Push-Pull app will be relevant to maize and sorghum farmers worldwide for both today and tomorrow in controlling fall armyworm, striga and maize stalk borer.”

Professor Toby Bruce, from Keele University’s School of Life Sciences, said: “We are excited to see if this app can serve as a vehicle for taking practical information to the farmer. It is designed to share key details about how to get started with push-pull. We hope this will increase the number of farmers taking up this innovative approach that provides real benefits by improving crop protection and food security.”

Arsalan Ahmad

Arsalan Ahmad is a Research Engineer working on 2-D Materials, graduated from the Institute of Advanced Materials, Bahaudin Zakariya University Multan, Pakistan. LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/arsalanahmad-materialsresearchengr/

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Digital Engagement and Training Helps Increase Agro-Dealer and Farmer Knowledge on Integrated Pest Management in East Africa

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Integrated Pest Management Innovation Lab

Aug 19, 2021

A group of people training with the Tanzanian Agricultural Research Institute (TARI)

This post is written by Sara Hendery, communications coordinator for the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Integrated Pest Management

Given Tanzania’s diverse geographical landscape, it’s no surprise the country is among the world’s top 20 producers of vegetables. Nevertheless, farmers remain in search of ways to combat the pests and diseases that threaten crop yields every season.

Results of a survey conducted by Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Integrated Pest Management partners at the Tanzanian Agricultural Research Institute (TARI) show that the majority of Tanzanian farmers receive key knowledge on how to manage pests and disease not only from extension personnel, but often from agricultural supply dealers, or agro-dealers. While agro-dealers do carry valuable information, resources and inputs, the survey also shows that many agro-dealers have limited formal knowledge on vegetable production or protective measures for applying chemical pesticides.

To address these gaps, TARI began providing cohesive training to agro-dealers, farmers and extension officers on vegetable production and pest and disease management. Training covers such areas as Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs), Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and safe handling and use of agricultural inputs, including pesticides. Thus far, 500 participants have been trained in the Coast and Morogoro regions. The GAP training in particular helps farmers build capacity in reporting and record-keeping, assessing input quality and crop hygiene, and training in IPM provides information on bio- and botanical pesticides, pruning, developing seedlings in a nursery environment and how to apply pesticides with minimal body exposure.   

“Knowing that farmers receive their pest and disease management knowledge from agro-dealers provides us important insight into how to best reach farmers with up-to-date information,” said Dr. Fred Tairo, principal agricultural research officer at TARI-Mikocheni. “If we want farmers to adopt sustainable, climate-smart and productive inputs that might be outside of their typical use, an important pathway to reaching them is through the people that farmers already trust and are familiar with.” 

In a group of 69 agro-dealers surveyed, only 49 were registered and licensed to run agricultural shops. The 20 unregistered participants had received no formal training in crop production or pesticide safety and use, and most participants not only had no prior knowledge on how to dispose of expired pesticides, but did not sell bio-pesticides or chemical pesticide alternatives at their shops. Since registering as an agro-dealer can cost nearly $200, TARI is collaborating with the Tropical Pesticides Research Institute (TPRI), a regulatory authority for pesticides in Tanzania, to consider lowering the costs.  

TARI and the IPM Innovation Lab are increasing communication through digital platforms to reach more agricultural actors with safe and effective approaches to pest and disease management. A Kiswahili-based (Swahili) WhatsApp group named “Kilima cha Mboga kisasa,” or modern vegetable cultivation, currently shares information with 154 farmers, extension agents and agro-dealers in Tanzania who can use the app to cite crop threats and receive expert management guidance in return.

Participants post a picture or video of the crop problem for immediate diagnosis. Not only do agro-dealers in the group directly learn about farmers’ most pressing problems, but they can use the platform to market agri-inputs, including the IPM products they learn about through the platform. 

“Even if members of this group do not necessarily follow up with formal training we offer, this is a low-stakes knowledge-sharing space that they can be a part of and receive guidance from,” Tairo added. 

To increase access to information and inputs, the IPM Innovation Lab is also collaborating with Real IPM, a private company based in Kenya that develops low-cost biological and holistic crop solutions available in Kenya and Tanzania. In just one year, the company has provided training to thousands of farmers in seven counties in Kenya by targeting farmer groups, the majority of which are made up of women. Real IPM has developed training manuals on IPM, a WhatsApp group for crop health assistance and a free web portal for diagnosis and IPM recommendations of specific crop threats. 

“Our goal is to make IPM solutions more accessible,” said Ruth Murunde, research and development manager at Real IPM. “When you enter a pest or disease into our web portal, those images, diagnosis and IPM recommendations stay posted. We know that many farmers are experiencing similar issues to one another and collective action against crop threats is an effective way to combat them more long-term.”

While technology constraints remain — including smartphone, internet and electricity access — making learning spaces available for a range of crop production actors is critical to adoption of sustainable, effective farming solutions. 

Currently, the Real IPM database hosts over 7,000 participants and has collected over 200 infected crop images.

“The Real IPM technical team is actively working to support farmers by providing biopesticides as a solution for mitigating pests and diseases on vegetable crops to ensure sustainable agriculture for smallholder farmers,” added Murunde. “Our information networks help disseminate best practice methods for using those tools.”  

For more information on IPM training or Real IPM products, contact saraeh91@vt.edu.FILED UNDER:AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTIVITYEDUCATION AND EXTENSION

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University of Leeds

An app to help African farmers defeat crop pests

CategoryEnvironment newsDate11 August 2021

Two men look at a smartphone stood in a field with maize crops behind them on a sunny day

A mobile phone app – launched today by an international team of scientists – will support farmers across Africa to adopt environmentally friendly ways of protecting their crops from pests.

African smallholder farmers face major challenges from weeds such as striga and insect pests such as fall armyworm. Fall armyworm is a serious threat to food security and livelihoods and already affects at least 400,000 hectares, causing crop losses worth an estimated $3 billion a year.  

But a solution exists – ‘push-pull technology’ – and it avoids the need to use harmful and expensive chemical pesticides. 

Push-pull technology is a scientific method of planting crops such as maize and sorghum alongside particular species of forage grasses and legumes, which repel pests and supress weeds.

A field of crops shows maize planted using the push-pull method, with other plants alongside it.

The push-pull method pictured in action. Credit AFRICAP

The method was developed by scientists at the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe) in Kenya with partners and is designed to protect the plants against devastating pests like the fall armyworm and the striga weed, with the companion plants also improving soil fertility. 

But a major challenge is how to communicate advice and information about this crop management technique to millions of smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa. To help address this challenge, a new mobile phone app – called Push-Pull – has been launched by Agape Innovations Ltd, in collaboration with a team of scientists from the University of Leeds, Keele University and icipe.  

The app is part of a larger project called ‘Scaling up Biocontrol Innovations in Africa’ funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), which seeks to understand how biocontrol methods have been used across Africa and to encourage their uptake. The project involves a cluster of previous GCRF-funded research programmes, including the Leeds-led AFRICAP project

Principal Investigator Dr Steve Sait, from Leeds’ School of Biology, said: “The push-pull method of pest control is decades old and is used successfully by thousands of smallholder farmers across Africa.  

“We hope that this collaboration, and this new app, can help us extend knowledge of this technique to potentially millions of other farmers who could be benefitting from it. Compared to chemical pesticides, push-pull costs less money to the farmer, results in less damage to their crops, and it avoids harming other insect species that play valuable roles in the ecosystem. 

“We consulted widely with farmers in Kenya and I’m excited to see how their contribution has made the app user friendly and could lead to more uptake of push-pull farming.” 

Research by the scientists behind the push-pull technique has proven that odours released by the companion plants can effectively repel fall armyworm and protect crops against the pest.  

Early adopter farmers have had great success with the technique, reporting five times less fall armyworm damage and a doubling or even tripling of crop yield, showing the huge potential this has for farmers and crop-producing smallholders. It also reduces the environmental impact of farming by protecting against pests without using pesticides, as well as improving soil quality without inorganic fertilisers. 

Improving food security

The Push-Pull app, which has launched today, has been developed by Agape Innovations and is available on Android phones. It has been designed to work on the basic smartphones that are being increasingly used by smallholder farmers in Africa. It gives farmers information they need to get started with push-pull farming, and is not only free but will work offline, meaning a lack of internet connection in rural regions will not affect its function. 

The ultimate goal is to provide a resource for farmers that is informed by science, protects their crops and improves their harvest, which they can access any time of day from anywhere in the world. 

Paul Mugisha, CEO of Agape Innovations Ltd, said: “With the world going digital and uncertainties like Covid-19 amplifying the challenges of physical interactions, ICT is so vital in today and tomorrow’s agriculture.  

“At Agape, we built the Push-Pull app as a global tool to equip a farmer with all that is needed for a successful push-pull garden. Embedded with audio, visual and graphical expressions we are certain that the Push-Pull app will be relevant to maize and sorghum farmers worldwide for both today and tomorrow in controlling fall armyworm, striga and maize stalk borer.” 

Professor Toby Bruce, from Keele University’s School of Life Sciences, said: “We are excited to see if this app can serve as a vehicle for taking practical information to the farmer. It is designed to share key details about how to get started with push-pull. We hope this will increase the number of farmers taking up this innovative approach that provides real benefits by improving crop protection and food security.” 

Further information

Image credit: Agape Innovations Ltd

For media interviews please contact Simon Moore, press officer at the University of Leeds, on s.i.moore@leeds.ac.uk 

The Push-Pull app can be downloaded on the Google Play website

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What is the

The Plantwise Knowledge Bank is a free online resource that gathers plant health information from across the world. Over 15,000 pieces of content, which include, pest management decision guide’s (PMDG), factsheets for farmers (PFFF), species pages, photosheets, manuals and video factsheets in over 100 languages.

Plantwise Knowledge Bank Homepage
Plantwise Knowledge Bank website home page © CABI

It also provides the user with really useful tools including the diagnostic tool, country resources, pest alerts, horizon tool, interactive maps and booklet builder.

It’s modern and dynamic design makes it easy to use. The site is also mobile responsive which enables our smartphone users in Plantwise countries to access the site with ease.

Plantwise Knowledge Bank
The Plantwise Knowledge Bank information flow © CABI

The  Plantwise knowledge bank links all actors in the plant health system – plant clinics, researchers, extension workers, farmers and government bodies – to the information they need for timely action against crop pests and diseases. It supports the Plantwise goal: lose less, feed more by collecting, analyzing and disseminating pest data in order to enable:

– Identification and management of plant pests

– Protection against pest and disease threats

– Secure storage and analysis of national plant pest data

Search content

The content can be searched using the search box that appears on the homepage. You can use the free text search to search for a pest problem or crop by common or scientific name. You can then filter by country, region, category or language. Additional search support can be found here, along with details on how to use the Boolean operators.

Diagnostic tool

The diagnostic tool allows you to diagnose a crop problem through the symptoms observed and the part of the plant affected. Results from the diagnostic search are given as a list of possible pests or diseases, each with an image, and a technical factsheet further describing the problem.

Country resources

The country resources give dynamic location specific information including crop variety list, guidelines, diagnostic field guides, pesticide red lists and country specific plant health websites. It will soon also contain links to country-specific factsheets. It allows users to get a range of information that refers specifically to their chosen country.

Pest alerts

Pest alerts deliver information about new pests straight to your inbox. You can sign up to receive email alerts containing recent literature reports for a specific country or region, or recent literature reports from around the globe.

Horizon Scanning Tool

The Horizon Scanning Tool, developed under CABI’s Action on Invasives programme, helps you identify and categorize species that might enter your country. Using data from CABI Compendia datasheets, the tool evaluates whether there is a potential threat of an invasive species, based on countries with similar climates, trade connections or major transport links to the source country.

Booklet builder

Some factsheets can be added to a booklet, using the booklet builder, and are denoted by 📖. Click on the open book symbol to add a factsheet to the booklet. The booklet builder helps you to build a PDF booklet containing factsheets of your choice. Further details can be found here.

Interactive Map

Mapping plant pests and diseases is critical to plant protection decision-making. The knowledge bank allows users to plot multiple species of crops and pests to track spread. With climate overlays, predictive scenarios can be added.

Plantwise Knowledge Bank
Distribution map on the Plantwise Knowledge Bank © CABI

Further reading

Contact us via email to share links to factsheets or any queries: plantwise@cabi.org


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Every year, people in Sub-Saharan Africa consume 34 million tons of milled rice, of which 43 percent is imported. But the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly hampered supply chains, making it difficult for imported rice to reach the continent. Indeed, if immediate action is not taken, the supply shortfall will further strain the region’s food systems which are already impacted by the pandemic.

Rice imports from Thailand, one of Africa’s largest suppliers, have declined 30 percent due to lockdowns, border closures and general limitations on supply chains in just over one year since the pandemic started.

Consequently, many poor urban dwellers, who traditionally struggle to afford staple foods, now have to contend with more expensive food as the price of the popular Indica White rice has increased by 22%.

On the flip side, however, these challenges can be viewed as a wake-up call for Africa to strengthen its domestic rice production and achieve self-sustainability. Undoubtedly, the continent has the resources for adequate rice production, and with increased investment, tremendous change can be achieved.

Ghana, for example, has increased its rice production by an average of 10 percent every year since 2008, with a sharp 25 percent rise being reported in 2019 following the rehabilitation and modernization of the country’s irrigation schemes. These investments led to a 17 percent rise in the country’s rice self-sufficiency between 2016 and 2019.

And while the West African nation has yet to produce enough rice to meet its local demand, the impressive increase in output makes it a model example of what can be achieved through supportive policies and investment. On this point, the country’s National Rice Development Strategy of 2009 and the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) campaign – launched in 2017 – not only prioritized rice but set ambitious expansion targets for domestic production.

Among the objectives of the two policies were the substitute on of rice imports and the production of higher-quality rice that is acceptable to Ghanaian consumers and can compete with imported products.

These policy frameworks played a pivotal role in de-risking market failures while speeding up the implementation of innovations in local rice production, including those that relate to genomics and e-commerce. At the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), we are first-hand witnesses to the transformation, and saw the positive impact of the government’s leadership in the development of favorable policies.

AGRA supported these developments; we helped the government in publicizing its ‘Eat Ghana Rice’ campaign, which sensitized local consumers on the economic and nutritional importance of consuming local products.

The clarion call inspired rice farmers, millers and other private sector players to increase domestic sourcing and marketing. The result, the country’s national production increased from just 138,000 metric tonnes in 2016 to 665,000 in 2019.

AGRA also played a major role in supporting the adoption of innovative technologies in rice production, particularly through the development and distribution of locally adaptable varieties. We remain a key player in availing suitable rice varieties and seed to farmers in the country, a goal we continually pursue by helping train scientists and researchers in the field.

Of the 680 crop breeders that we have trained at post graduate level in Africa since 2006, more than 50, or around 8 percent, have been rice breeders. These professionals have been instrumental in sustaining the production of varieties that are suited to local conditions and yield more per acreage than older types.

We are now delivering such technologies across Africa, and especially in countries with the potential for large scale rice production, most of which are spread across West and East Africa. In countries like Tanzania and Kenya, we soon hope to report a major rise in rice output attributable to our advocacy for the implementation of supportive policies related to the uptake of the best production and marketing practices.

But we cannot do it alone; we believe that investments of a genuinely great extent, like the ones we are pursuing, can only be achieved by the participation of all stakeholders. For this reason, we continue to appeal to all players in the rice value chain to support all efforts aimed at increasing the production of local rice, a crop that holds a leading role in the achievement of food security and economic stability for the continent.

More news fromAGRA (Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa)

Websitehttp://www.agra-alliance.org

Published: June 22, 2021

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NEMEDUSSA CONSORTIUM ADVANCING NEMATOLOGY EDUCATION IN SUB-SAHARA AFRICA

To develop the research and educational capacity in Sub-Sahara Africa in the field of nematology, or the study of roundworms, a joint Erasmus+ KA2 project was recently launched. The Erasmus+ project, Capacity Building in Higher Education (CBHE): Nematology Education in Sub-Sahara Africa (NEMEDUSSA), is a joint effort by a consortium of Universities from Sub-Sahara Africa and Europe.

This three-year project (2021-2023) is co-funded by the European Union (Erasmus+ KA2 CBHE) and VLIR-UOS, and is linked to the objectives of the Erasmus+ Programme. The aims are to encourage cooperation between the EU and Partner Countries and support eligible Partner Countries in addressing challenges in the management and governance of their higher education institutions.

Specifically, NEMEDUSSA aims to increase awareness of nematodes and expand educational and research capacities in higher education and other institutions in Sub-Sahara Africa in this field. Nematodes or roundworms cause significant damage and yield loss to a wide variety of crops often together with other pathogens. Unfortunately, nematodes are often overlooked or misdiagnosed, resulting in the unnecessary use of unhealthy agro-chemicals. Nematodes can also be used as bio-control agents against insect pests and/or as bio-control agents for environmental health and biodiversity.

Despite the profound adverse impact plant-parasitic nematodes have on productivity worldwide, it is striking how concealed the discipline of nematology has remained, particularly in Sub-Sahara Africa. This project aims to address the need for increased capacity and specialised training in handling these pathogens, so that plant-parasitic nematodes are managed correctly and beneficial nematodes can be implemented as biocontrol organisms.

To achieve this, the project focuses on 6 core activities:

  1. Developing Curricula. Develop curricula in nematology on BSc and MSc level for the integration into existing educational programmes in English and French, for both lecturers and students.
  2. Training Staff. Improve the nematological expertise of academic and technical staff to enhance teaching capacity.
  3. Upgrading lab facilities. Increase the number of student microscopes, lab and demonstration equipment to augment hands-on training.
  4. Nematology digital learning platform. Develop an open-access platform to share and disseminate nematological knowledge, develop curricular modules, knowledge clips, etc.
  5. Nematology Network. Enhance cooperation between nematologists in Sub-Sahara Africa by providing networking tools, workshops on relevant topics in nematology and sharing good practices in education, promoting collaboration with a focus on young nematologists.
  6. Creating awareness. Facilitate dissemination activities and involve a range of different stakeholders such as farmers, extension service workers, policy makers, students and private and public sector.

Ghent University (Belgium) coordinates NEMEDUSSA, in cooperation with:

  • University Abomey-Calavi, Benin
  • University of Parakou, Benin
  • Haramaya University, Ethiopia
  • Jimma University, Ethiopia
  • Kenyatta University, Kenya
  • Moi University, Kenya
  • Ahmadu-Bello University, Nigeria
  • University of Ibadan, Nigeria
  • North West University, South Africa
  • Stellenbosch University, South Africa
  • Makerere University, Uganda
  • Muni University, Uganda
  • University Côte d’Azur, France

The work of this project is further supported by 36 associated partners from the private and public sectors in Sub-Sahara Africa.

For more information about the NEMEDUSSA project, please see www.nemedussa.ugent.be or contact us at nemedussa@ugent.be.  

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