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Home Remedies! Integrated Pest Management Strategies

Integrated Pest Management Strategies




The idea focuses on addressing over reliance and over use of pesticides by farmers in Malawi, though can be adapted for any region with an over reliance on pesticides. 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 the household individual production of natural pesticides and insecticides, such as rapeseed oil sprays, mustard seed sprays 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 current ineffectiveness. 


Farmers bulk buy their pesticides at the beginning of the growing season, while unaware of what quantity they will actually require. These farmers are then often left needing more pesticides if there is a particularly large pest issue through the season. Such has been the case 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 untouched and get 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 certain crops such as mustard seed, rapeseed, tomatoes, garlic etc. 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 against 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!

Tagged users

William Lee Jul 27, 2017

How do you see this transforming into a business model?
1. Would PE be the 'manufacturing' arm of this idea? i.e. do you think PE can buy from these smallholder farms growing rape/mustard and produce the natural insecticide, which then is sold to farmers?
If the expertise and resources can be acquired to make this product, I think this will lower production costs per unit of insecticide. All that needs to be proven are its effectiveness, and whether the resulting product will be cheaper than current market alternatives.
2. Would PE be the 'social consulting' arm of this idea? i.e. by undergoing this process on the experimental farm and gaining the expertise to produce this insecticide, this knowledge is passed down to farmers.
This would be less resource intensive (c.f. manufacturing), and hence more aligned with LSU. However, the cost of production will be higher per individual.

Maybe it is the case that you would start off with 2. and move onto 1. in the long term.
Let me know your thoughts mate

Isaac Crawford Jul 27, 2017

In the initial stages, 'option 2' would be the preferred start point. PE as the 'social consulting' arm of the idea would be crucial in order to test and prove the concepts effectiveness in the Experimental Farm context. Once this knowledge is gathered of the effectiveness, the individual resources required by the farmers to make these pesticides and insecticides in home would not be overly intensive. All that would be required is a pot and a utensil used to crush the oils from certain seeds.

Though a method in which to scale up the manufacturing to offer a ready-made cheaper alternative to pesticides would need to then be a secondary issue to tackle.

Lisa Paisley Jul 30, 2017

Whoo, love that you're thinking about these things.
The key concept of IPM is that you're aiming to reduce the use of synthetic, broad spectrum pesticides. This means you have to closely monitor pest population to ascertain if chemicals NEED to be applied to limit pest damage. This is important as a small population of pests will not damage your crop, rather the cost of applying pesticides to control a small number of insects is more detrimental than the damage of this population. So too, rotating the chemicals used whether this is from synthetic to organic chemicals or broad to narrow spectrum chemicals (the latter only affecting the targeted pest species) would also improve the effectiveness of chemical use. So this is where I see the production of organic chemicals from brassica species being used.

But when it comes to IPM don’t focus purely on chemicals. The key principle is to limit ALL chemical use by introducing alternate practices into the system. This includes introducing predatory species into the system to control pest populations i.e. biological controls. One of my favourite attributes are the ‘cultural controls’. This means changing the surrounding environment so it is unfavourable for pests and diseases alike. This also were your brassica species comes into it. If you select plants like marigolds or garlic that repel insects, then you are naturally pushing pests out of the field. Obviously this won’t completely deter pests but it does mean that farmers can limit their chemical use.

Also re: the biz model comment. I see FarmEd as an education platform, helping farmers understand different farming practices to give them the knowledge to implement it on their farm. As such, FarmEd could educate farmers on the benefits of incorporating brassica species into their production system or making organic pesticides themselves - whatever is better for their particular production system.