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The International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) has developed a range of bio-pesticides to provide effective and environmentally safe alternatives for farmers in Africa to manage the invasive and highly destructive fall army worm

28051594681 10f79b96b7 oICIPE -led initiative strengthens regional collaboration for harmonisation and commercialisation of agricultural products and technologies. (Image source: K-State Research and Extension/Flickr)

Significantly, the centre has undertaken the label extension of two of its commercially available biopesticides, with support from development partners, government and regulatory authorities, as well as private sector actors in East Africa, which are now being upgraded for fall armyworm control. Furthermore, a number of newly discovered bio-pesticides are undergoing fast track registration.

Biopesticides are specific types of pesticides obtained from natural sources, such as fungi, viruses, bacteria, nematodes and plants, and some minerals, according to a news statement released by ICIPE.

Biopesticides have numerous advantages compared to their synthetic counterparts: they do not leave toxic residues on produce; they pose minimal risk to people’s health and the environment; and they are less likely to induce resistance to pests and diseases. Additionally, biopesticides are compatible with other options for integrated pest management (IPM).

The ICIPE biopesticides were developed from the extensive repository of microorganism strains infecting insects at the centre. A superior aspect of these products is that they are effective against various stages of the life cycle of the fall armyworm.

The biopesticides, for example, manage both the pest’s egg and early larval stages, preventing the emergence of the destructive larval stage while also hampering population build-up.

In addition, the centre has established that biopesticides can be used in conjunction with other fall armyworm management options such as push-pull technology, pheromone traps, attractants and pest’s natural enemies. The biopesticides can also be auto-disseminated; that is, fall armyworms that pick-up the fungi can spread it to others.

“The progress made in the development and use of biopesticides is exciting for ICIPE and partners,” noted Dr Segenet Kelemu, director general and CEO, ICIPE. “Since this notorious pest invaded Africa four years ago, our vision has been to provide farmers with science-led, context specific, affordable and environmentally friendly solutions for its management.”

“At ICIPE, we are aware that our efforts have succeeded due to regional cooperation, as well as efficiency of regulatory bodies to harmonise and fast track biopesticide registration and commercialisation across East Africa,” she added.