This follows the collaboration of these organisations towards the development of a curriculum for Farmers Field Schools (FFS) on the icipe’s ‘push-pull’ technology, an innovative strategy, which simultaneously combats stemborer moths, striga weeds, and poor soil fertility. Stemborers and striga together can, if not controlled, lead to as much as 100% yield losses of maize. As a result, although maize is the most important staple food in sub Saharan Africa (SSA), the region’s average per hectare yield of this cereal is the lowest in the world, and far below the population’s needs. Maize harvests that would be saved by controlling these two pests could feed an additional 27 million people in SSA.
Unfortunately, small-scale farmers who contribute more than 80% of the continent’s maize production often lack the money to buy synthetic pesticides, which are in any case not only harmful to the environment, but usually ineffective as well.
‘Push-pull’ is the result of a 10-year quest by Rothamsted Research, United Kingdom in collaboration with the Nairobi-headquartered icipe – African Insect Science for Food, Kenya’s Ministry of Agriculture, livestock and fisheries to provide such farmers with environmentally-friendly and sustainable methods to control these two pests.
The strategy uses a novel combination of forage plants which, when intercropped with cereals, act as both a trap and a repellent for stemborers and striga. The two plants so far employed by icipe are Napier grass, which attracts the moths, and desmodium, which produces semiochemicals that repel stemborers. Napier, planted as a border around the main crop, ‘pulls’ them away from the cereal and leaving it protected Desmodium is planted intimately within the rows of maize or sorghum to ‘push’ the pests. In addition, the roots of desmodium generate several isoflavones, some of which inhibit the germination, while others prevent the attachment of striga seeds to the root of the cereal.
Currently, more than 7000 farmers in 19 districts in Kenya and in five districts in Uganda are practising push-pull, while training demonstrations have started in Tanzania. In these sites, ‘push-pull’ has increased maize yields by an average of 25% in areas where only stemborers are present, and by more than 80% where both stemborers and striga are a problem. In addition, ‘push-pull’ has contributed to the augmentation of livestock production, especially on small farms where pressure on land is high, since both napier grass and desmodium provide quality fodder for livestock. Importantly too, the technology increases soil fertility as desmodium has nitrogen-fixing and moisture retention qualities.
The recently launched ‘push-pull’ curriculum is based on the realisation that poor dissemination of research technologies is partly to blame for continuing decline in agricultural productivity, and the increasing poverty among small-holder farmers in SSA. The aim of the collaborating institutions, therefore, is to expand the ‘push-pull’ technology to as many farmers as possible, taking into account its knowledge intensive nature and the need to guide end-users in learning its principles and practices. The curriculum will also be an important resource for the national extension system, the NGOs and the Community Based Organisations (CBOs).
The curriculum is a product of input from several individuals and organisations in the region, including farmers, research scientists, agricultural extension officers, practitioners from Non Governmental Organisations and donors.
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Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
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In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
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