Harnessing agricultural ecosystem biodiversity for bean production and food security

Donor: UK Darwin Initiative (DfID/Defra)   
Value: £288,762.00
Project profile on the UK Darwin Initiative website

This project will survey plant and invertebrate biodiversity in bean ecosystems in Tanzania and Malawi and evaluate their ecologies and identify plant species that (i) attract, nourish and provide habitat for natural enemies of pests; (ii) promote the activity of pollinator insects in crops and (iii) provide environmentally-benign ‘botanical insecticides’ as additional control for pests. This will require a systematic analysis of roles and interactions of pest and biological control species/habitats, supporting development of management systems that increase productivity through strategic integration of biodiversity. Using this knowledge we will develop interventions that maintain and optimise these ecosystem services.




Safe and effective pesticidal plants for agro-ecological intensification of legumes

Donor: McKnight Foundation
Value: £192,186.00
Project profile on the McKnight Collaborative Crop Research Programme website

The overall goal of the project is to demonstrate farmer relevant pest management practices that can reduce crop losses to pests in Malawi and Tanzania through the development and optimization of plant-based pest management technologies that are simple, effective, reliable, safe, low-cost and appropriate for the control of field and storage insect pests of legume crops grown by poor farmers. The technologies will be based on widely distributed and easily cultivated species such as Tephrosia vogelii, Tanacetum cinerariifolium (Pyrethrum), Tithonia diversifolia, Lantana camara, Vernonia amygdalina, Lippia javanica and Dysphania ambrosioides as well as indigenous woody plants such as Zanha africana and Securidaca longepedunculata. In carrying out this general goal, we plan to build technical capacity for a pesticidal plant sector by supporting and mentoring Masters students who will have opportunities to carry out a range of lab, field and farm based research cutting across disciplines of natural product chemistry, entomology, chemical ecology, insect behaviour as well as experimental design, data collection, statistical analysis, working with farmers and using analytical tools. A second goal is to help champion the development of the pesticidal plant value chain in Africa by working with businesses and policy makers in order to increase supply and demand of pest control options suitable for integration into agro-ecological intensification programmes.