Date Posted: September 15th, 2008
As this story mentions, bollworms are a serious problem for cotton farmers and can causes crop losses of up to 40 per cent. The economic threat is so severe that the Ugandan government recently gave the green light to controlled field trials of a genetically modified cotton variety designed to resist bollworm. (Uganda has only allowed field trials for one other genetically modified crop – a banana variety designed to resist black sigatoka.)
But Dr. Ben Ssekamatte, the director of Bio-Consult Uganda, says the bollworm problem can be solved with “basic insect science.” His invention was inspired by farmers who planted sunflowers around their cotton crops, realizing that the colour yellow attracts bollworm moths. However, Dr. Ssekamatte explains that, while sunflowers only attract moths for the time they are in bloom, a yellow-container lined with molasses can be used to attract and trap moths throughout the growing season. As an important bonus, farmers who successfully practice organic farming may be able to access the growing organic cotton market, in which they can earn premiums of up to 35 per cent over non-organic cotton.
For more information on the cotton sector in Uganda, visit:
-“Uganda approves Bt cotton trials,” a news story by Sci.Dev.Net
-“Organic cotton: Uganda case study,” prepared by the Pesticide Action Network UK in 2002
These past FRW news stories may also be of interest:
-“Cotton and shea producers satisfy western taste for organic products” (Issue #9, February 2008), talks about how Burkinabe farmers are benefitting from organic premiums
-“Low cost white fly traps save mango crops” (Issue #1, December 2007), looks at a simple attract-and-trap technique used by Senegalese farmers
There are plenty of scripts about pest management in the Farm Radio International archives. The following scripts describe simple yet effective techniques developed by African farmers:
-“The speaking scarecrows” (Package 81, Script 3, August 2007)
-“Powder of little pepper protects stored rice” (Package 81, Script 2, August 2007)
-“A local plant prevents pest damage to stored seeds” (Package 81, Script 1, August 2007)
To browse through more scripts on pest management, visit: http://www.farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/pest.asp.
Perhaps you’d like to host a phone-in/text-in show inviting farmers to share the innovative methods they use for managing pests in their fields. Questions to ask farmers include:
-What pest did they target and how much damage was it causing?
-Have they tried other techniques in the past, and if so, how is the new technique better (cheaper, more effective, etc)?
-How did they come up with the pest management idea or hear about the new technique?
-What tests did they conduct to determine that the technique would work in their field, for their crop?
-What is the cost of using the pest management technique?
-By what amount has the technique reduced pest damage?
-Describe in detail how to make/use the technique, including where to get the materials.