FINAL PROJECT REPORT: Quick Start Activity: Sustainable Insect Pest Management for Cowpea in West Africa

Project Title: Quick Start Activity: Sustainable Insect Pest Management for Cowpea in West Africa

PI, Co-PI(s) names, titles, departments, institutions, addresses, email addresses, and phone numbers 

Dr. Manuele Tamò (HC-PI), Principal Scientist – Entomologist, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Cotonou, Benin 

m.tamo@cgiar.org, tel +229 95 96 13 06

 

Dr. Fousséni Traore (HC-PI), Entomologist, Institut de l'Environnement et de Recherches Agricoles (INERA), Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso

foussnitraore@gmail.com, tel +226 76 65 94 22 

 

Mr. Laouali Amadou (HC-PI), Entomologist, Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique du Niger (INRAN), Maradi, Niger

amadoulaouali@gmail.com, tel +227 96 33 75 54

 

Prof. Ibrahim Baoua (HC-Co-PI), Entomologist, University of Maradi (UM), Maradi, Niger

baoua.ibrahim@gmail.com, tel +227 90 42 35 73



Research themes (keywords) 

insect pest management, cowpea agro-ecosystems, biological control, bio-pesticides

 

Research country focus (where the research will be conducted)

Benin, Burkina Faso, Niger

 

Districts Benin

Zou, Donga, Collines

 

Districts Burkina Faso

Bama, Banfora, Bobo-Diulasso, Satiri

 

Districts Niger

Maradi, Dakoro, Madaroufa and Mayahi

 

Project length (months, maximum 47) 12 months

 

Total budget requested (in U.S. dollars) $69,189

 

Executive Summary

This project addresses (under Area of Inquiry #1) increasing smallholder farm productivity (yield increase) and promoting environmental sustainability (substitute for chemical pesticide treatments).

 

Its objectives are: 1) assessing the establishment and ecological impact of the biocontrols against the pod borer released 2016-17 in Benin and Burkina Faso; 2) dissemination of neem seed biopesticide and the implementation of a community-based neem private units (CBNP) in Niger.

 

Major achievement during this initial activity: 

  1.  Both biocontrol agents (Therophilus javanus and Phanerotoma syleptae) are established both in Benin and Burkina Faso up to 50 km of the original release sites. 
  2.  Pod-borer populations have been consistently low in the unsprayed experimental fields in both counties, with an average of 86.3% reduction as compared to populations prior to releases in Benin and 69.4 % to 72.6%, in Burkina Faso, depending on locality. 
  3.  Fifteen FFS (Farmer Field Schools) were established in Niger (5 FFS per department), with on average 20 to 25 participants including women. 
  4.  Twenty-eight biopesticide DF (demonstration fields) were established in 30 villages with 88 farmers including 46 women. 
  5.  Three Neem based biopescide community units were established in the Maradi region. The project activities concerned more than 372 farmers. 
  6.  The first three neem-based community units established by the project sold all the 557 neem tea bags produced in the pilot unit for an estimated application coverage of 222.8 ha of cowpea fields.

 

Project Partners

 Manuele Tamò, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture IITA, Benin (PI), 

Ibrahim Baoua, University of Maradi, Niger (co-PI), 

Amadou Laouali, INRAN, Niger (co-PI)

Fousseni Traore, INERA, Burkina Faso (co-PI), 

 

Project Goals and Objectives

 

Goal: the overall goal of this initial activity is to provide robust data on ecological impact of the biocontrols to guide the subsequent large-scale releases, and at the same time to demonstrate the feasibility of producing neem biopesticides at the community level.

 

Objectives: 

  1.  Assessing the establishment and ecological impact of the biocontrols against the pod borer released 2016-17 in Benin and Burkina Faso; 
  2.  Dissemination of neem seed biopesticide and the implementation of a community-based neem private units (CBNP) in Niger.




Overview of Activities

 

The proposed activities are a spin-off from past Legume Innovation Lab project outputs: 

  1.  Collect data on establishment and ecological impact of the biological control agents Therophilus javanus and Phanerotoma syleptae (Hymenoptera, Braconidae) on pod borer populations in the original release areas in Benin and Burkina Faso, where these parasitoids have been released within the scope of the past Legume Innovation Lab project “SO1.B1 IPM-omics: Scalable and sustainable biological solutions for pest management of insect pests of cowpea in Africa” These data are crucial to understand the establishment pattern on both cowpea crops and alternative host plants before expanding the inoculative releases to Feed the Future countries Niger and Nigeria,
  2.  In view of the encouraging results obtained with the locally manufactured ‘neem tea bag’ whereby neem seeds aqueous extracts gave yield increases of 346 to 806% compared to untreated control plots, activities are now focusing on the establishment of at least three community-based neem private units (CBNP) in Niger, in conjunction with the dissemination of neem seed biopesticides through Farmer Field Schools (FFS) and farmer Demonstration Fields (DF).



Accomplishments

 

Annual achievements (Oct 2019 – Sept 2020)

 

1.1 Assessment of establishment and impact of biocontrols 

 

Benin: A total of eight experimental cowpea fields (with no pesticide applications) were established at two locations in South-Central Benin. The fields were planted on May 11 (Igoho) and May 13 (Hounkpogon), with the local variety Kpodjiguegue. From each field, a total of 10 entire plants were removed at each sampling date, and all flowering and podding structures were placed separately into paper bags for incubation. 

 

Overall, the population of the pod borer M. vitrata was consistently low, with a maximum average per plant of 0.52 caterpillars, compared to averages of 3.82 caterpillars recorded during the same time of the year in the same region by Toffa et al., 2014. Most importantly, we were able to recover adults of the parasitoid Therophilus javanus from parasitized caterpillars collected from cowpea pods. This is really a breakthrough, indicating that this parasitoid is still well established 3 years after the first experimental releases in the region. The other parasitoid we have released, Phaneortoma syleptae, is also very firmly established on patches of wild host plants including Lochocarpus and Pterocarpus trees. Pod-borer populations have been consistently low, with an average of 86.3% reduction as compared to populations prior to releases. 

 

Burkina Faso: An early (60 days) cowpea variety “Komcalle” was planted in five experimental fields (no pesticide applications) close to the parasitoids release areas: two in Bala, one in Bama and one in Nasso, (all in Bobo-Dioulasso district), and one in Tengrela, Banfora district. In Bobo-Diulasso cowpea were planted on July 23 while those of Banfora was planted on July 24. Parasitoids (T. javanus) were established in two 2 localities: Nasso (on both unsprayed cowpea crops and the wild host Tephrosia nana) and at Bama (only on cowpea). 

 

Pod borer infestation levels decreased from long term rates of 4.58 and 4.02 larvae/plants at Bama and Nasso, respectively, to 1.4 and 1.1 larvae/plants, indicating a reduction of the infestation levels by 69.4 % and 72.6%, respectively. In the district of Banfora, very close to the parasitoid release point, the infestation level was 0,5 larva/plant, much lower than infestation levels (3.95 larvae/plant) in another field distant 25 km from the release point. 

 

2.1 Establishment of 3 CBNP for production of biopesticide 

 

Niger: A trip was conducted June 11-14 to target the farmers’ cooperative for establishing the CBNP (community-based neem production) units in the department of Dakoro, Madaroufa and Mayahi. The farmers involved in the process of neem biopesticide production were all women. Each of the CBNP collected about five 50kg bags of neem seeds to start the activity. The first three neem-based community units established by the project sold all the 557 neem tea bags produced in the pilot unit for an estimated application coverage of 222.8 ha of cowpea fields.

 

2.2 Dissemination of technologies through FSS and DF

 

Niger: Fifteen FFS (Farmer Field Schools) were established in Niger (5 FFS per department), with on average 20 to 25 participants including women. 4) Twenty-eight biopesticide DF (demonstration fields) were established in 30 villages with 88 farmers including 46 women. Each farmer had two plots including control and neem based biopesticide plot. The training on FFS and neem-based biopesticides was held June 23-24 from at the INRAN Station in Maradi and involved 15farmers, 14 facilitators and 6 agents of CBNP. The training had two sessions focusing on the establishment and facilitation of FFS, as well as process of producing neem seed kernel biopesticides. A follow-up trip was carried out August 6-8 in order to assess the advancement of the FFS implementation, the biopesticide production status at CBNP, as well as the progress with the DF. 

 

In the FFS, the varieties IT90K372-1-2, IT99K-573-1-1 and UAM 09 1055-6 were the most performed in term of yield; the treatments neem seed grain and chemical pesticide were comparable and produced 848.00±213.58 and 899.40±208.86 kg/ha respectively while the field treated with neem seed kernel and the biopesticide Beauvaria bassiana recorded an increase of 80.7% and 95.97% compared to controls treatments respectively in demonstration fields. The project activities concerned more than 372 farmers.

 

Utilization of Research Outputs

 

The outcomes of this initial activity have already been incorporated into the new project AOI 1.2 ‘Science-driven and farmer-oriented insect pest management for cowpea agro-ecosystems in West Africa’, namely with regard to pillars i) assessment of ecological interactions between the target pest organism (the legume pod borer), the released exotic biocontrol agents, and the cultivated (cowpea) and wild host plants flowering both during the cropping season and during the dry season; ii) investigations of the in-field host finding capacity of the biocontrol agent Therophilus javanus; and v) socio-economic adoption, gender and impact studies to flank the scaling activities (with regard to biocontrol agents and neem tea-bags) in Niger.

 

With the research results obtained during the initial activity, we will be able to focus much narrowly on release areas with high potential for establishment of the biocontrol agents within the new project. The results will also be helpful in assessing the preference of the parasitoids for particular cultivated and naturally occurring host plants, through the collection of headspace volatiles in the field. This will guide our efforts to elucidate the host finding mechanisms the parasitoids use to discover the pod borer larvae in the field. 

 

At the same time, we have now a much better understanding of the basic requirements for establishing community-based neem ‘tea bag’ production units, particularly with regard to the whole neem ‘tea bag’ value chain from the collection of the neem seeds to the sale and use of the product in the field. These preliminary finding are now being used for designing a baseline data collection survey, which will inform the scaling activities with regard to gender and youth approaches, and ultimately the socio-economic impact of the project.

 

Further Challenges and Opportunities

 

The results from the initial activities did not reveal any major challenges with regard to the planned activities for the new project. However, it is clear that the use of small engine powered mills to grind the neem seeds instead of using the traditional method of pounding them in the mortar will be instrumental for improving the scale-readiness of the neem ‘tea bag’ technology, particularly with regard to relieving drudgery for women who are the main actors in this value chain. This is probably the most important take-home message from the initial activity. 

 

In terms of opportunities, we see that both the biocontrol approach (through the releases of parasitoids) and the use of neem ‘tea bags’ will contribute to reducing the need for chemical pesticides and therefore reduce the hazards to environmental and human health of the most vulnerable household members - women, youth and elderly. These approaches will profit women cowpea farmers who have much less access to conventional pesticides, and be particularly attractive to the youth as a sustainable approach. 

 

Tags: legume lab

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