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Perspective article: food security in tropical Africa through climate-smart plant health management
De Groote, H.
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Each year, Africa loses half of its harvest to pests (insects, pathogens, nematodes, weeds). To offset these losses and improve food security, pest management needs to be revamped urgently. Based on a synthesis of all 58 pest management projects conducted by IITA in its 55-year history, we advocate here for the implementation of the five following key climate-smart interventions, which have been shown to increase yields and decreasing CO2 outputs compared to the current practices that are largely based on the use of synthetic pesticides: 1. Sanitation at the country’s borders and at the field level is the most cost-efficient way to prevent pest damage and losses from exotic pests entering new territories. 2. Good soil management strengthens the crop plant and enhances the effectiveness of all other interventions. 3. Biological control is the quickest and in the long run most cost-effective way to control invading insect pests and weeds. 4. Resistant varieties are often the only way to control already established diseases and are a mainstay control method in combination with other practices. 5. Various bio-pesticides based on viruses, bacteria and fungi against insects have been commercialized or can be produced on-farm; they are to replace synthetic pesticides, which continue to have large negative impacts on the environment and human health. To apply these five practices, new decision-support and climate services tools should be used to empower low-literacy farmers to take timely decisions about pest control and to act as business partners. Meanwhile, all actors in the pest control community should account for their environmental costs, which up to now are born solely by the community, while profits from pesticide sales are pocketed privately. To successfully disseminate these practices across the continent, enhanced and harmonized policy support is required.
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Permanent link to this itemhttps://hdl.handle.net/20.500.12478/8163
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