The power of biocontrol

Farmers and scientists have, time and time again, turned back to nature to find solutions to pest problems in crop fields.

Variegated grasshopper (<em srcset=Zonocerus variegatus). Photo from Wikimedia commons ” width=”250″ height=”188″ />
Variegated grasshopper (Zonocerus variegatus). Photo from Wikimedia commons

When several exotic pests were accidentally introduced into Africa from South America through infected planting materials in the early 1970s, ravaging economically important crops, such as cassava, scientists turned to the origins of the pests to solve the problem.

A lot has been said about the benefits of biological control or biocontrol. It is natural and safe to the environment and humans, and rigorous tests ensure that it is effective only on the target pests.

And almost three decades of research and development at IITA have shown the continuing effectiveness and sustainability of biological control in combination with other approaches for managing insect pests.

These biocontrol practices and technologies provide the subsistence farmers in sub-Saharan Africa with solutions that are sometimes their only safety net.

This issue on biocontrol celebrates the success of solutions to problems in tropical agriculture that IITA and its partners have developed for millions of African farmers.

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