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Exploiting phytochemicals for developing sustainable crop protection strategies to withstand climate change: example from Africa

Khan, Zeyaur R., Midega, Charles A. O., Pittchar, Jimmy O. and Pickett, John A. ORCID: 2014. Exploiting phytochemicals for developing sustainable crop protection strategies to withstand climate change: example from Africa. Singh, D., ed. Advances in Plant Biopesticides, New Delhi: Springer, pp. 35-46. (10.1007/978-81-322-2006-0_3)

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Africa suffers chronic food insecurity resulting from ravaging effects of insect pests, weeds and poor soil fertility, with rising poverty and increasingly dry and hot weather conditions associated with climate change further aggravating this situation. Scientists at the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe) together with national and international partners have developed a platform technology, ‘push–pull’, based on locally available companion plants for integrated management of these constraints by exploiting innate plant defence systems including secondary metabolism. This involves intercropping cereal crops, the main staple and cash crops for millions of smallholder farmers in the continent, with forage legumes in the genus Desmodium and planting Napier grass as a trap plant around this intercrop. Stemborer pests are attracted to Napier grass (pull) and are repelled from the main cereal crop by the repellent desmodium (push). Desmodium root exudates effectively control the parasitic striga weed by causing abortive germination and also improve soil fertility through nitrogen fixation, provide natural mulching and improve biomass. Both companion plants provide high-value animal fodder, facilitate milk production and fetch additional income for farmers. The technology is appropriate to smallholder mixed cropping systems in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) as it effectively addresses major production constraints and significantly increases cereal yields. It is currently being practiced by about 90,000 smallholder farmers in eastern Africa and has also been adapted to harsh conditions associated with climate change by incorporating drought-tolerant companion plants. This chapter highlights the developmental process of the technology and its benefits in SSA in the face of climate change.

Item Type: Book Section
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Chemistry
Publisher: Springer
ISBN: 9788132220053
Last Modified: 03 Nov 2022 10:04

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