Sustainable intensification of fruit production systems through innovative pest biocontrol technologies

Project consortium and fund

  • PI: Thierry Brévault (CIRAD)
  • CIRAD (France)
  • ICIPE  (Kenya)
  • INRA (France)
  • UCAD (Senegal)
  • UHEL (Finland)

Thematic and geographic area of the project:    

  • Pest and disease control

Project’s summary/abstract:                        

In sub-Saharan Africa, sustainable intensification of fruit production is affected by pests that strongly impact food and nutrition security. The invasive fruit fly, Bactrocera dorsalis, is a permanent threat to fruit crops, particularly mango. Direct loss is caused by larval feeding in the fruit, but significant indirect loss results when market opportunities are inaccessible due to quarantine restrictions. Another key pest is anthracnose, the most serious disease of mango worldwide. The combined effect of these pests threatens the sustainability of mango production systems, as current pest control methods are insufficient to minimize crop losses.

Main objectives of the present project include (i) developing transformative pest control based on the use of insects as smart and reliable conveyors of biopesticides (entomovectoring), and (ii) co-designing with stakeholders biocontrol strategies as part of an integrated pest management framework. High-quality basic and applied research including lab and semi-field tests and small-scale field trials will be performed in Senegal and Kenya to optimize the interactions between insect conveyors (particularly sterile male fruit flies), entomopathogens, and target pests, assess environmental risk, and co-design pilot implementation with stakeholders. Expected results include the design of a two-in-one technology to control mango fruit flies and anthracnose.

A key innovation of the project is the coordinated, preventive and area-wide approach, which ensures that all habitats of the target pest are treated, thus limiting re-invasion, as opposed to conventional strategies that focus on independent and often reactive grower interventions at the orchard scale.

Project’s main objective(s):                             

The proposed Project aims to develop and promote novel, cost-effective and system-wide biocontrol technologies that contribute to the sustainable intensification of fruit production, particularly for small-scale growers in Africa.

Theory of Change and Impact Pathway

Summary ToC with assumptions                         

Evidence indicates that invasive fruit flies and anthracnose cause significant fruit losses in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) because of lack of effective control strategies and resistance to insecticides. The Project is championing research to develop a transformative biocontrol system to control both B. dorsalis fruit flies and mango anthracnose. The control approach will be promoted in targeted areas in Kenya and Senegal in collaboration with local stakeholders, and also through awareness creation about the use of SIT. Adoption of the control strategies is expected to reduce significantly fruit losses in the targeted areas. This will lead to increased fruit production and quality, increased income for smallholders, improvement of food and nutrition security, and better health. The subsequent reduction of pesticide use should benefit the environment, including the restoration of biodiversity and its ecological functions such as natural pest control.

Central to the theory of change (ToC) is the assertion that household-level outcomes of food security, resilience and poverty reduction will not arise from the sole availability of component solutions, policies and improved farming and food practices. Developing context-specific institutional solutions, new market opportunities for agricultural products (here export and organic markets, or transformation), small local units for biopesticide production, new regulatory framework for SIT and biopesticides, will be critical to enabling change agrifood systems and the livelihoods. The emergence of organizational capital (e.g. farmer cooperatives) will be also expected through capacity building, strengthened assistance from extension services and governmental bodies, and support by public policies, for better access to and use of biopesticides and collective pest management.

Expected outcomes and impact:                          

Project is expected to contribute to initiation and execution of collaborative research, including public and private sector, academia, civil society and farming communities that will also contribute to promotion of the improved insect pest control methods. Gender sensitive and inclusive approaches will be followed in the Project intervention strategies to ensure gender equality and equity in the Project, including balanced selection of women and men farmers in participatory field experiments. In addition, capacity building component of this Project will pay attention to vulnerable and less advantageous groups (women and youth) including engaging qualified female candidates for postgraduate level training. The results achieved through the innovative biocontrol technologies will be tracked and their outcomes and impacts on mango productivity, income and food security documented and shared with wider stakeholders for further scale up and sustainability. This will be achieved through a workable Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) and impact assessment approach. A M&E team will be in charge of the extensive collection of primary data in the experimental sites and in a control area of comparable ecological conditions among different categories of stakeholders that will benchmark end of Project data to assess the progress towards impacts. The M&E will inform the Project on whether targets have been met or not, identify areas for improvement and suggest changes. Information gathered, lessons learned and way forward will be shared with the stakeholder platform in the form of workshops and bilateral meetings.