Malick Ba Lal Almas
Ibrahim Baoua Laouali Amadou
Mame Goudiaby Daniel Fonceka
George Norton Muni Muniappan
Mark Stelter Ibrahima Sarr
Feed the Future Integrated Pest Management Innovation Lab at Virginia Tech University
Kansas State University
Niger - International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique du Niger (INRAN), Université Abdou Moumouni de Niamey (UAM), Université de Maradi
Senegal - Centre d’Etudes Régional pour l’Amélioration de l’Adaptation à la Sécheresse (CERAAS), Centre National de Recherche Agronomique (CNRA), Institut Sénégalais de Recherches Agricoles (ISRA), Université Cheikh Anta Diop (UCAD)
Pearl millet serves as a staple crop to millions of smallholder farmers and their families around the world. But pearl millet has its weaknesses, and one of those is its susceptibility to certain insect pests. Across the African Sahel - where millet is an irreplaceable base to the diets of humans and livestock alike - the millet stem borer and millet head miner are considered major chronic millet pests, known for wreaking havoc and causing major destruction to entire fields of production.
The technology focuses on the release of a naturally occurring parasitoid that targets both the head miner and stem borer and kills them, effectively controlling the population. Parasitoid wasps (Habrobracon hebetor) are reared in jute bags with millet grain, millet flour, rice moth larvae (Corcyra cephalonica) and two mated H. Hebetor females. Offspring emerge from the bags and disperse to the millet fields to control the millet head miner and borer insects. A set of 15 bags yield a population of approximately 1,000 parasitoids, which provides coverage of up to three square kilometers, resulting in a potential yield gain of up to 34% compared to unprotected fields of millet.
This project includes three primary components:
1. Biological control of the MHM with releases of larval parasitoids to significantly increase on-going mass rearing of the larval parasitoid Habrabracon hebetor Say (Hymenoptera: Braconidae) and fine-tune release techniques for improved control of the millet head minuer (MHM).
2. Test the Trichogrammatoidae egg parasitoid as bio control agents of the MHM
3. Establishing parasitoid cottage industry for rearing and commercialization of parasitoids in the Sahel with particular attention to having those businesses owned and operated by individuals or groups of women.
The project trained one M.S. and two Ph.D. students at Virginia Tech Univesrity as well as the Université Cheikh Anta Diop in Senegal. Farmers were trained on biological control of the MHM and links were made with funding from the McKnight Foundation in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger; a West-Africa Agricultural Productivity Program-funded project in Senegal and the CGIAR research program on Dryland Cereals to scale up the technologies in all Sahelian countries. Outcomes of this project included a reduction in pearl millet grain losses, an increase in food production and security among Nigerien and Senegalese millet farmers, as well as the establishment of a cottage industry to rear and sell natural enemies, which provides revenue to farmers and women’s cooperatives.
Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique du Niger (INRAN)
Institut Sénégalais de Recherches Agricoles du Senegal (ISRA)
Laboratory trials were conducted and evaluated for pearl millet, sorghum, peanut and cowpea as diet sources because these are locally grown and commonly available in Niger. Pearl millet was tested individually as well as mixed with sorghum, cowpea and peanut in the first experiment and with different portions of cowpea in the second experiment. There was no significant difference among treatments in larval duration of post embryonic development. A high number of eggs per female moth was recorded from females fed on cereals combined with legumes. Also, a high number of 4.9 H. hebetorlarvae/C. cephalonicalarva, were produced on larvae fed on a diet of 75% pearl millet + 25% cowpea. However, more C. cephalonicalarvae were produced in the 50% pearl millet +50% cowpea diet and as a result, this diet produced more parasitoids. Twenty-five C.cephalonica larvae kept for a three-month rearing period produced 2,680,257 larvae and 10,077,766 H. hebetor adults parasitoids. Mr. Laouali Amadou, who conducted research under the project, was awarded the BIFAD Award of Excellence for Graduate Student Research.
Commercialization of the parasitoids is underway in in Niger with six private units, which commercialized about 6,000 parasitoid bags. Some backstopping has been provided to the private unit to supply them with the insects needed to start the business. Pearl millet IPM was included in the technologies to be disseminated under the African development Bank funded project "Technologies for African Agriculture Transformation (TAAT).”