Back To BNI Home
Back to BNI News


March 2002, Volume 23 No. 1

 

IPM Systems

This section covers integrated pest management (IPM) including biological control, and techniques that are compatible with the use of biological control or minimize negative impact on natural enemies.

More US Apple IPM Success

As a follow up to `Apple of their eye' in the last issue [BNI 22(4), 81N-83N (December 2001)], which described the achievements of the Areawide Program for Suppression of Codling Moth in the Western United States, there is news of more good apple IPM practice from the other side of the USA.

Fruit Notes Vol. 66 (2001) contains two interesting articles germane to the ongoing discussion of pesticides and the ability of apple growers to move away from high-risk organophosphates. Fruit Notes is a publication from the University of Massachusetts's Fruit Team, whose mission is to assist fruit growers with all aspects of horticultural and pest management. This is a cooperative programme of the research and extension efforts of the Departments of Plant & Soil Sciences, Microbiology, and Entomology, and is part of the University's Extension's Agroecology Program.

Ron Prokopy's article `Twenty Years of Apple Production under an Ecological Approach to Pest Management', describes the efforts made on a small commercial farm to produce apples with largely ecological, prevention-based IPM methods. The orchard started in 1977. The article presents time-series data on a number of pests in the orchard, comparing levels to a nearby unmanaged orchard. The results are encouraging; pest damage was kept at or below levels experienced in commercial orchards. Pesticide use was much less frequent and generally involved softer materials, because of the emphasis (requirement, actually) to preserve beneficials. This is one of very few articles that presents a long-run view of ecological adaptation among pests and beneficials in a biointensive IPM orchard. Access the article in pdf at:
www.umass.edu/fruitadvisor/fruitnotes/twentyyearsof.pdf

A second article in the same issue compares the efficacy of insect control when the new reduced risk insecticide indoxacarb (Avaunt) replaces the old, high-risk material azinphos-methyl (Guthion). Again, the results are encouraging; comparable levels of control were achieved. The much less severe impact of indoxacarb on a range of beneficials also is likely to help restore a number of biocontrol processes in orchards where hot, broad spectrum organophosphates, carbamates and pyrethroids are used sparingly if at all. This article is at:
www.umass.edu/fruitadvisor/fruitnotes/comparisonofavaunt.pdf

The careful research behind these articles lends further support to two general conclusions that most pest management experts now embrace, some strongly, others begrudgingly:

  • First, prevention-based, bioIPM systems can and are working. The technology and knowledge are there for those growers with the determination and support to make it work. The reason hard chemical-based systems still dominate agricultural production in the USA is that pesticides are relatively cheap to farmers and they are easy to use. It is not that farmers like to handle hot materials, or are anti-biology, it is basically pragmatic. As long as US policies remain as they are, pesticide-based systems will remain price-competitive and therefore the common choice of most farmers. Almost across the board, high-risk, older pesticides are the cheapest to use per acre/hectare - to the farmer - since so much of the indirect costs of pesticides are borne by people other than farmers.
  • Second, the new generation of reduced-risk pesticides and bio-pesticides that have been coming on the market in the last few years are offering farmers viable alternatives, which can and are serving as stepping stones along the transition to bioIPM.

Website: www.umass.edu/fruitadvisor/

Contact: Wesley Autio, Department of Plant & Soil Sciences, Bowditch Hall, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA 01003, USA
Email: autio@pssci.umass.edu
Fax: +1 413 545 0260

Ronald Prokopy, Department of Entomology, Fernald Hall, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA 01003, USA
Email: prokopy@ent.umass.edu
Fax: +1 413 545 2115

Congratulations for some really nice, patient work to the apple IPM team at the University of Massachusetts!

By: Charles Benbrook, Benbrook Consulting Services, 5085 Upper Pack River Road, Sandpoint, Idaho 83864, USA
Email: benbrook@hillnet.com
Fax: +1 208 263 7342

West African Recipe for Cocoa IPM

Regional collaboration and a participatory approach were the key ingredients of a meeting of cocoa scientists held in Benin in late 2001. It led to the formulation of an overall concept note for a regional cocoa IPM initiative in West Africa, which will encompass various sub-projects that can be submitted to various donors. This indication of regional commitment to support cocoa growers comes as cocoa prices, following years of decline, took an upswing owing to fears over production declines. Falling cocoa production is blamed on recent bad weather and disease, together with the impact of long years of poor returns on cocoa growers.

The West Africa Regional Cocoa IPM workshop held on 13-15 November in Cotonou was organized jointly by CABI Bioscience and IITA (the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture). It was sponsored by STCP (the Sustainable Tree Crops Program) and BCCCA (the Biscuit, Cake, Chocolate and Confectionery Alliance, UK), and provided scientists from the various West African cocoa-producing countries a platform to exchange ideas.

The BCCCA has a long tradition of support for cocoa research and currently funds a range of innovative projects together with key international resources which will benefit the world cocoa community. Its research programme aims to achieve sustainable production of good quality cocoa through the development of cost-effective and environmentally responsible ways of controlling the range of pests and diseases afflicting cocoa production.

The STCP, launched in Ghana in May 2000, is a joint public-private partnership between European and American chocolate manufacturers, bilateral donors (such as the US Agency for International Development; USAID), NARES (national agricultural research and extension systems) and IARCs (international agricultural research centres) in West and Central Africa. Coordinated by IITA, STCP uses a systems approach focused principally on the sustainable supply of cocoa, coffee, and cashew nuts through diversified multi-product agroforestry systems. Activities under four programme components (research and technology transfer, grower and business support services, market and information systems, and policy) have been endorsed by a broad coalition of stakeholders including farmer organizations, marketing agents, industry, research and extension.

West Africa produces some 60% of the world's cocoa, and by far the majority of this is produced by smallholders, who grow it with a number of different crops. At the moment, cocoa production in Africa is falling. Farmers find it increasingly difficult to make a living from the crop, in the face of pest and disease constraints and poor prices, and are abandoning their trees. The organizers of this workshop, however, described this bleak outlook as a window of opportunity to steer IPM towards a biologically based system for high quality cocoa production, in response also to ever-louder calls for environmentally friendly solutions to pest problems in these areas of high biodiversity where cocoa is grown. In order to stem abandonment of the crop, it has become imperative to rehabilitate cocoa groves and to find new ways to start new ones in areas where the rainforest has already been cut down, and to devise new IPM systems.

The workshop's participants included three cocoa IPM scientists from each STCP member country (Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea-Conakry and Nigeria) together with others from the host country Benin, CABI Bioscience, CRIG (Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana), NRI (Natural Resources Institute, UK) and IITA. The workshop programme was developed in consultation with the participating countries, and provided a platform for scientists to exchange ideas on cocoa IPM research and implementation. Each country outlined its pest and disease problems, past and current control measures, and the status of its cocoa IPM research and implementation. Workshop sessions then focused on finding solutions to common key pest problems, and options for regional collaborative research and implementation by piloting new methods for cocoa extension.

The three key constraints to cocoa production in the region were agreed to be black pod disease caused by Phytophthora spp., the mirids Distantiella theobroma and Sahlbergella singularis, and the cossid moth stem borer Eulophonotus myrmeleon. Diseases currently devastating South American production (witches' broom, Crinipellis perniciosa, and frosty pod, Moniliophthora roreri) were also recognized as looming threats. Interestingly, swollen shoot virus (transmitted largely by mealybugs in the genera Planococcus and Stictococcus) was, along with mistletoes, termites and weeds, considered a threat, but was not accorded the priority it has sometimes been given.

Three regional groups, with one member from each STCP member country, focused on one prioritized pest problem. They considered its current status, available IPM options and options in development, identified experts in member countries, and came up with suggestions for regional collaboration to alleviate the problem. Following this, participants came together as national groups, and each evaluated cocoa IPM extension in their country, the experts they have and how current methodology could be improved to reach more farmers or improve impact.

By synthesizing this information, the workshop was able to come up with an inventory of ongoing and potential regional cocoa IPM research and implementation, and a menu of possible solutions to the three key pest problems to achieve sustainable and cost-effective reduction in cocoa yield losses, while maintaining good cocoa quality. Core components of the menu are:

  • biocontrol using indigenous micro-organisms
  • rational pesticide use
  • host plant resistance
  • cultural controls including habitat management and tree pruning

Strengthening quarantine was added to this list, to address the need to prevent diseases from other regions of the world gaining access to the cocoa-growing areas of West Africa.

The next step is to formulate projects and secure funding to develop and evaluate different methods. The goal is to develop sustainable farming systems in the forest zone with cocoa as the main cash crop and farmers in the driving seat. The solutions have to be based on what is acceptable to farmers, and what is needed is a basket of options that alleviate cocoa farmers' major pest problems. These should then be evaluated and implemented in 'best-bet' trials using farmer participatory methods.

This will make real the dream of farmers benefiting from more profitable production of cocoa using largely biologically-based IPM. Besides the economic benefits, this will be better for the health of the farming community. In addition, such an approach will sustain the forest environment, even providing habitat bridges between forest pockets.

Workshop proceedings will be produced and distributed in 2002.

Contact: Janny Vos, CABI Bioscience UK Centre, Bakeham Lane, Egham, Surrey, TW20 9TY, UK
Email: J.Vos@cabi.org
Fax: +44 1491 829100

Peter Neuenschwander, Director, Plant Health Management Division, IITA, 08 BP 0932, Tri Postal, Cotonou, Benin
Email: P.Neuenschwander@cgiar.org
Fax: +229 350556

PAN Full of IPM Resources

Advice on cocoa IPM can be found in one of the latest briefings prepared by the Pesticides Action Network UK (PAN UK) under the 'Control of pesticides and IPM in Developing Countries Project', funded by the European Commission. One of the project's outputs, Pest Management Notes (PMN), is a series of four-page briefings for governments, development agencies, policy and technical advisers, researchers and others on policies and issues related to pesticides and IPM.

Number 12 in the series, 'Sustainable cocoa production systems' summarizes major pest and disease problems facing cocoa producers worldwide, and reviews current options for its sustainable management. Cocoa, it points out, is a crop of smallholder farmers, but low prices and high input costs have had a major impact on production and incomes. In the face of falling prices in this notoriously volatile sector, which have reduced farmers' profits in many cases to minimal at best, many farmers have virtually abandoned their cocoa trees. They have invested the bare minimum of time and inputs, and such neglect has in turn exacerbated many pest and disease problems. These are legion, but the conclusions of the workshop described in the article above mirror some of the conclusions in this Briefing. It identifies the most important pests in West Africa as: black pod disease (caused by Phytophthora spp.), which causes losses of a staggering 44% of global production each year; cocoa swollen shoot virus, transmitted largely by mealybugs (Planococcus and Stictococcus spp.) and leading to losses of some 25% and eventual death of the tree; capsids (Distantiella theobroma and Sahlbergella singularis), which cause up to 75% loss; and parasitic mistletoes. The Briefing also warns that pests and diseases currently devastating cocoa in other parts of the world loom as threats on the horizon.

Conventional pesticide-based control has become uneconomic and increasingly ineffective. In addition lindane, which has been used to control capsids, is a highly persistent and toxic insecticide now banned by many countries. PMN No. 12 outlines current options for sustainable cocoa production, including maintaining crop hygiene, using resistant varieties, managing shade, biological control, rational pesticide use and maintaining fertile soils.

The briefing concludes:

  • all stakeholders need to be involved in a partnership to develop effective sustainable systems for cocoa production
  • apparent farmer reluctance to take up research results generally reflects inappropriate recommendations owing to the failure of research and extension services to appreciate farmers' constraints
  • participatory approaches build the knowledge and confidence for farmers to make their own crop management decisions, and such approaches have already notched up successes in cocoa in Central and South America

PMN is just one output of the first phase of this project, which was designed to increase the speed of implementation of farmer participatory IPM and to improve awareness of essential steps in the sound management of pesticides. The project is implemented by PAN UK, part of PAN Europe, which is one of five regional centres coordinating a global network comprising over 600 participating non-governmental organizations, institutions and individuals in over 60 countries working to replace the use of hazardous pesticides with ecologically sound alternatives.

Pesticides continue to be used in developing countries, in spite of often inappropriate conditions facing women and men farmers and workers applying the products. Policy makers in governments and developing countries require accessible information on strategies for improving capacity to regulate pesticides, implement best practice, and develop IPM. PAN UK aims to meet this knowledge gap by making information and resources that promote `progressive pest management' widely available. They are drawing on PAN's wide-ranging research of best practice, and on their own and others' experience of pesticide regulation and farmer participatory IPM strategies. The resources produced are the result of consultations and studies of needs at both policy and field level, and will be made available in English, French and Spanish.

In its first phase, the project has produced a guide to reducing pesticide use and developing and implementing IPM policies. Comprehensive information and resources have also been gathered and made available on pesticide hazards and IPM. Profiles provide a snapshot of how some countries in Africa are progressing in the transition to safer, more sustainable agriculture, and there is a database of projects containing a strong element of participatory IPM. PMN briefings advise on sustainable management of other major crops besides cocoa (coffee, cotton and fruit) and pests (locusts), introduce the concept of IPM, and give practical and regulatory guidance on pesticide issues. Also forthcoming is a report from field studies on 'Progressive pest management for food security and the environment' conducted in four countries (Senegal, Benin, Ghana and Ethiopia) in a variety of crops (cotton, vegetables, pineapple, and cereal grains and legumes). The findings from these case studies on the problems and costs associated with pesticide dependence will be shared with stakeholders and policy makers in Africa and Europe in order to develop recommendations for policy and field-level actions.

Information: www.pan-uk.org/Internat/IPMinDC/ipmindex.htm

Contact: Barbara Dinham, Director, Pesticide Action Network-UK
Eurolink Centre, 49 Effra Road, London SW2 1BZ, UK
Email: barbaradinham@pan-uk.org
Fax: +44 20 7274 9084

 


Back To BNI Home
Back to BNI News