The saying “prevention is better than cure” is no more true than when applied to agriculture. Taking precautionary measures against common pests can increase farmer income by investing a small amount of money into minimising crop losses, ensuring a high yield. Preventative measures can include correct land preparation, physical barriers, field hygiene and cultivation of tolerant varieties. Unlike resistant varieties, tolerant varieties can host the pest, but are not seriously affected by it. Different varieties have different levels of tolerance to different pests. It is therefore important for farmers to select a variety with tolerance to the pests known to occur in their area. This month’s Factsheet of the month ‘Tolerant bean varieties against stem maggots’ provides information about the use of bean varieties tolerant to stem maggots, also known as bean flies. Stem maggots are an important pest of legumes found mainly in Asia and East Africa. They feed by tunnelling into leaves, stems and roots, weakening the plant and increasing the chance of death in younger plants.
This factsheet was written last year by staff from the Zambia Agriculture Research Institute (ZARI).
According to the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Tanzania and Uganda, who produce almost half of all bananas in Africa, are only achieving 9% of their expected yield. This year sees the start of a 5-year project to develop high-yielding, pest resistant banana hybrids. Rony Swennen, the project’s leader, says that he hopes this will help to increase resistance to pests such as nematodes, Black Sigatoka and banana weevils. Banana weevils are found in virtually all banana-growing countries of the world and can cause severe damage to the banana plant. The weevils bore into the trunk and roots, which weakens the plants and can cause them to collapse altogether. This month’s Factsheet of the month explains how banana weevil populations can be reduced using traps made from 2 halves of a freshly cut banana stem.
This factsheet was written by an agronomist from the Ministry of Agriculture in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is also available in French.
A recent plant protection conference in Hanoi highlighted dangerous levels of pesticide use in agriculture in Vietnam. The head of Vietnam’s Plant Protection Department, Nguyen Xuan Hong, announced that a 5-year Integrated Pest Management (IPM) project had been approved by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. IPM will be important in reducing both costs to producers and damage to the environment. This month’s Plantwise Factsheet for Farmers outlines some management options to control Tomato Yellow Leaf Curl Virus. This pest is found in many countries across the world (see the Plantwise distribution map) and is spread by insect vectors.
To find out more about Tomato Leaf Curl and its management, read this month’s Plantwise Factsheet for Farmers which was written by staff from the Plant Protection Research Institute (PPRI) in Vietnam. This factsheet is also available in Vietnamese.
India is one of the world’s largest producers of sugarcane which is used in many food and drink products. Sugarcane is vulnerable to a variety of pests, including sugarcane woolly aphids which caused a 30% yield loss in the outbreak of 2002. This pest is constrained to south and east Asia, (see the Plantwise distribution map). The aphids are covered in a woolly coating and are often mistaken for mealybugs. They deposit honeydew on the leaves which allows sooty mould to develop. This interrupts the plant’s ability to photosynthesise and so results in a weaker plant with a reduced yield.
To find out more about sugarcane woolly aphids and their management, read this month’s Plantwise Factsheet for Farmers which was written by a senior scientist from M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) in India. This factsheet is also available in Tamil.
Clubroot is a serious disease of crucifers. It is found in many countries across the world (see the Plantwise distribution map). It is caused by the fungus Plasmodiophora brassicae, whose spores can live for many years in the soil. This makes the disease difficult to control once a field has been infected.
To find out more about clubroot of crucifers and its management, read this month’s Plantwise Factsheet for Farmers which was written by staff from the Regional Agriculture Research & Development Centre in Sri Lanka. This factsheet is also available in Tamil and Sinhalese.
The white stem borer, also known as Seto Gavaro, is a major pest of coffee in Nepal. In fact, the government and industry hold the pest largely responsible for the drop in production between mid-2012 and mid-2013. Coffee is a major cash crop in Nepal so it is important that farmers do not lose yield to pests such as the white stem borer. Earlier this year, the government set up a new Coffee Research Centre in Baletaksar after a major outbreak of the white stem borer.
To find out more about white stem borers on coffee and their management, read this month’s Plantwise Factsheet for Farmers which was written by staff from the Pesticide Registration and Management Division, Goverment of Nepal.
Last week, Nature published an article on the story of rice, from a wild grass to the stable crop we know today. Rice is one of the most important crops in the world as it forms the basis of the diet of a large portion of the human population. Due to the high importance of this crop, there is a vast amount of research that goes into ensuring the world’s rice production is as efficient and sustainable as possible.
Like all crops, rice is affected by a range of pests including insects, pathogens, weeds, nematodes and birds. One of the most damaging pests for rice in Asia is the Brown Planthopper (BPH). This pest not only feeds on rice plants, but also transmits grassy stunt virus and ragged stunt virus which cause stunting and reduce productivity. There are chemicals that will control this insect pest but it is important to note that this isn’t always the best method of control, due to the effect on natural enemies that feed on BPH. There are a range of non-chemical options that are effective at preventing and controlling BPH including the use of resistant varieties and avoiding excessive urea application to the field.
To find out more about BPH and its management, read this month’s Plantwise Factsheet for Farmers which was written by staff from Shushilan, an agroecology and rights-based NGO situated in South West Bangladesh. Please note this factsheet is also available in Bengali.