Date Posted: January 10th, 2011
Since the 1980s, conservation efforts have brought African elephants back from the brink of extinction. It’s now estimated that more than half a million elephants roam the continent. While this is good news for conservationists (and elephants), it can pose challenges for local farmers. Elephants enter farming communities in search of food, and the results can be disastrous. They trample fields, eat crops, and can even destroy houses and raid grain silos. Human-wildlife conflict is difficult to manage in a way that brings a good outcome for all.
In July 2010, the Food and Agriculture Organization produced a toolkit to help resolve, prevent and mitigate the growing problem of conflict between humans and wild animals. For more information visit: http://www.fao.org/news/story/pt/item/44027/icode/en/.
The toolkit can be downloaded in sections here: http://www.fao.org/docrep/012/i1048e/i1048e00.htm.
Simple and effective methods are being researched and developed to protect farmers’ fields, including chili pepper and bees. For more information, visit the following websites:
-Elephant Pepper Development Trust: http://www.elephantpepper.org/index.html
-Elephants and Bees Research: http://www.elephantsandbees.com/Lucy_King/Welcome.html
If you want to see for yourself how bees can make these massive beasts flee, check out a video clip on this site:
Farm Radio Weekly has published news stories on simple and inexpensive methods to manage elephant intrusions:
-Botswana: Chilies are a harmless ’weapon’ against intruding elephants (FRW 105, March 2010) http://weekly.farmradio.org/2010/03/29/2-botswana-chilies-are-a-harmless-%E2%80%99weapon%E2%80%99-against-intruding-elephants-mmegi/
-Kenya: ‘Beehive fence’ can keep elephants away from crops (FRW 86, November 2009) http://weekly.farmradio.org/2009/11/02/2-kenya-%E2%80%98beehive-fence%E2%80%99-can-keep-elephants-away-from-crops-spore/
-Africa: Tiny but powerful – bees and chilies can keep elephants away from crops (FRW 1, December 2007) http://weekly.farmradio.org/2007/12/03/africa-tiny-but-powerful-%E2%80%93-bees-and-chilies-can-keep-elephants-away-from-crops-various-sources/
Elephants could be thought of as the largest pest that farmers have to deal with. Chili peppers can be used to deter elephants, as well as a number of other pests. It is also useful to preserve and protect stored crops such as rice. This topic was covered in a Farm Radio International script entitled: Powder of Little Pepper Protects Stored Rice: http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/81-2script_en.asp.
Controlling pests and diseases is a main concern for farmers. You may wish to develop a program about local, effective and affordable methods of pest control. Ask farmers how they control pests in their staple crops. Is the use of pesticides common? How widespread is the use of chili, soap or garlic as a pest control technique? What experiences do farmers have with these methods? Find out which methods the extension services or local NGOs promote.