The FAO estimates that up to 40% of global crop yields are reduced each year due to the damage caused by pests (FAO, 2015). Crop losses have a huge impact on the livelihoods of smallholder farmers. They result in less food for them and their families and a lower income for spending on education and farming resources, including tools for the management and control of pests.
Accurate pest forecasting systems therefore need to be made available so that farmers can be warned of potential pest outbreaks that may severely damage crops. Pest forecasts enable farmers to implement prevention methods in time for them to be most effective.
A recent study carried out in Costa Rica found that insectivorous birds such as the Yellow Warbler help to reduce infestations of the Coffee Berry Borer Beetle on coffee plantations by 50%. This free pest control service is estimated to save a medium sized coffee farm up to $9,400 per year. The study carried out by biologists from Stanford University could provide incentive for biodiversity conservation and enhancement of ecosystem services and also offer hope to coffee farmers devastated by the beetle.
A farmer, Pedro Welch, attended the Plantwise plant clinic at this year’s Agrofest 2012, the annual agricultural show in Barbados. He described the problems he was having on his lime tree, and the plant doctor diagnosed the problem straight away, giving advice on how to manage the pest. Watch the video below to see a plant clinic in action.