Project Everest

Work Update

Home Remedies! Integrated Pest Management Strategies.

Isaac Crawford
Isaac Crawford | Jul 26, 2017 | in Agriculture Assessment



The idea focuses on addressing over reliance and over use of pesticides by farmers in Malawi. It aims to limit the input costs of smallholder farmers with already restricted amounts of disposable income by allowing them to utilize the crops in which they are using for Integrated Pest Management (IPM). This utilization will come through household, individual production of natural pesticides such as rapeseed oil and tomato leaf oil sprays.


Current Issue With Pesticide Usage


Most Malawian smallholder farmers spend around half of their input costs on pesticides, though many of these farmers still report year round pest issues. This indicates problems surrounding the heavy application of chemical pesticides in Malawi and its ineffectiveness. 


Farmers bulk buy their pesticides at the beginning of the growing season, while unaware of how much they will actually require. These farmers are then often left requiring more pesticide if there is a particularly large pest issue, such as in the last few years. Due to the farmers having little to no income to spare on additional farming resources, their crops are then left and destroyed by pests.


The Idea


The idea is to be adapted in the testing phases of the Experimental Farm, while also being encouraged towards farmers already growing these certain crops. The idea is to encourage smallholder farmers implementing IPM in Malawi with crops such as Rapeseed and Mustard seed, to harvest these crops and make homemade insecticides as a secondary defence mechanism against pests.


Mustard and Rape are both members of the Brassicaceae family. This family of crops contains a chemical called glucosinolates, which have been proven to contribute to plant defence against pests such as moths, and diseases. Thus when these crops are sown between other more major crops such as Maize, they naturally deter pests defeating the need for chemical pesticides.


However these plants can provide a secondary and shorter term focused solution. Mustard and Rape are both consumed mainly for their leaves, and are also commonly left to grow out entirely to leave seeds for the following season. However these crops can provide a secondary use as an insecticide when the oils of their seeds are extracted.  Glucosinolates are water-soluble meaning the organic compounds that deter pests can be leached into water when heated, additionally the seeds can be crushed to release the necessary oils when mixing the oils with water an effective insecticide is created.


This could be something to consider in future as it will not only limit input costs for smallholder farmers, but it will also create more adaptability to pest issues as they will not need to bulk buy pesticides before the season begins. Instead, they will be able to make oils and sprays as the season goes on in accordance with influx and declines of pests. There also several other crops such as garlic and tomato leaves that can be mixed with water to make insect repellents and insecticides. Comments about the plausibility and execution of this are most welcome!

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Andrew Vild Jul 27, 2017

Great idea, the obvious reason this isn't being adapted is lack of knowledge around the topic. I would also be interested to see the % effectiveness of this method vs. chemical pesticides. It sounds like an experiment for the summer period that would result in a nice and simple SOP for farmers who don't know how to practice this natural pesticide solution.

I'm sure it would also work in well with Roya's post on Push-Pull Pest Management.


Isaac Crawford Jul 27, 2017

It can definitely be utilised in Roya's push-pull system and once taught to farmers, should be a relatively straightforward process to continue. The
crops used for the push-pull have the potential to be adapted to make these home-made insecticides.


Roya Ghodsi Jul 27, 2017

I like how this idea does not require the introduction of a new crop, but maximises use of crops already grown by these farmers. This means this method can be far more easily integrated into the local farming culture as it does not disrupt current practices.
Interestingly, rape seed also offers multiple other benefits - one of which is that it can be planted as a 'cover crop' to contribute to the protection and enrichment of the soil. It provides good soil cover to prevent soil erosion, produces large amounts of biomass, suppresses weeds, and can improve soil tilth with its root system. This, in addition to its value as a natural pesticide, would make it a valuable component of the Experimental Farm.


Amber Johnston Jun 30, 2018

Status label added: Work Update