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Projects and activities | 8 November 2019

Thrips IMP - Validation and dissemination of bio intensive eco-friendly management strategies for thrips-a critical constraint to cowpea production in Africa

Grain legumes such as cowpea are among the most important food crops in Africa, grown both by small-holders and commercial farmers. Insect pests such as the Bean Flower Thrips can inflict very serious, even total yield losses. Traditional control relies on an intensive regime of synthetic pesticide use that can lead to resistance and unwanted chemical residues. The Thrips Integrated Pest Management project has developed and successfully tested a new eco-friendly control strategy which overcomes the negative consequences arising from excessive synthetic pesticide use.

The new strategy, known as 'lure and infect' translates new scientific knowledge developed by the project’s partners into two integrated biological pest management techniques, a thrips attractants and a fungus that infects thrips, both manufactured by a private sector bio-pesticide company, Real IPM in Kenya, working closely with the project.

Commercial growers in Kenya and Uganda, anxious to meet pesticide residue regulations for domestic and regional markets and to manage input costs have been evaluating the 'lure and infect' strategy and are pleased with the results. Beyond the completion of the project, the legacy lives on. Partners anticipate a scaling up of the commercial application of the new strategy and a trickle-down effect on uptake of the new strategy from commercial growers to small-holders in the region.

Additional funding has recently been awarded from the UK’s Global Challenges Research Fund to continue this work on novel technologies for the control of bean flower thrips.

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