The UK team (Phil Stevenson, Steve Belmain, Tory Woolley and Sarah Arnold) joined the Malawi team (Vernon Kabambe, Yolice Tembo) at LUANAR to carry out field site visits, scoping for the upcoming planned fieldwork as part of NaPROCLA, and to catch up with the McKnight Farmer Research Networks.
At this time of year farmers are still waiting for the rains and deciding what crops to plant, and timing the planting optimally. As the dry season has continued for some time, there are not a lot of flowering plants actively growing/blooming so nectar availability for natural enemies such as parasitoid wasps may be low. NaPROCLA will seek to investigate this more.
L-R: Phil Stevenson, Tory Woolley and Yolice Tembo consider a Tephrosia plant and examine it for insect activity.
The Farmer Research Networks meeting was engaging, as the farmers had many specific questions about the uses of pesticidal plants on fields, and feedback about the process. They unanimously agreed that pesticidal plants really do work, but have reservations about the labour involved. After farmer-led discussion and votes, they agreed that the next stage of their research will focus on combining different species and testing their efficacy as combinations.
Yolice Tembo and Steve Belmain feed back to farmers about the pesticidal plant research so far and listen to farmers' ideas about future directions.