What we must do to ensure sustainable farming in small holder cropping systems in Africa
International Centre fof Insect Physiology and Ecology, Behavioural and Chemical Ecology Unit, Kenya
Pervasive poverty and food insecurity in sub-Saharan Africa results from low productivity in agriculture, the main source of income and employment for > 80% of the rural population. Biotic constraints (insect pests, parasitic weeds and diseases), low soil fertility and climate change impacts limit agricultural productivity, causing crop losses of up to 60%-100%, with staple cereal crops yielding less than 1 t/ha. This is compounded by smallholder famers’ limited knowledge of improved crop and integrated pest management and post-harvest losses. Rural poverty is projected to worsen due to rapid population growth and urban migration, growing pressures on limited resources, further decline in agricultural productivity and agro-ecosystem degradation due to climate change, amongst other factors. Adoption of science-based agricultural technologies is crucial to increasing agricultural productivity, reducing poverty, and sustaining ecosystem services that support production, and have been shown to generate sizeable farm-level beneﬁts and substantial economic surpluses. Sustainable small holder farming needs a combination of indigenous and scientific knowledge systems that are low cost, easy to adopt, affordable, and which assures ownership at the farmer level. For example in East Africa, crop losses due to fruit fly infestation can be up to 100%. To overcome these losses, small holder farmers implement various management techniques introduced to them by researchers and extensionists including biological control agents such as parasitoids, predators and pathogens, synthetic insecticides and cultural methods such as early harvesting, fruit bagging and orchard sanitation to control fruit flies within an integrated pest management structure. Here, we present evidence of how the introduction of semiochemical tools targeting native fruit fly species has contributed to transforming fruit production systems, and aided farmer understanding of sustainable fruit production in Kenya.
Keywords: Ecosystem services, fruit flies, indigenous knowledge, semiochemicals, smallholder farming systems, sustainable agriculture
Contact Address: Baldwyn Torto, International Centre fof Insect Physiology and Ecology, Behavioural and Chemical Ecology Unit, 01 duduville mwiki road, 00100 Nairobi, Kenya, e-mail: btortoicipe.org