Pest/disease controlPush-Pull in practice

Losing your maize yield to stemborers and striga?

Stemborers and striga weeds cause major losses to maize production throughout Africa. Maize yield losses due to stemborers can vary from 20-40%. Striga weeds infest 40% of the arable land in sub-Saharan Africa, causing an annual crop loss of US$ 7 to 13 billion. Around the Lake Victoria basin, infestation by striga weed causes 30 to 100% loss in maize yield. Use of insecticides for stemborer control is not only expensive and harmful to the environment but is also ineffective. Weeding for striga control is both time-consuming and labour intensive. 

The ‘push-pull’ habitat management approach for managing these two important pests·- one an insect and the other a weed-was developed by ICIPE in partnership with several institutions: the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARl), the Kenya Ministry of Agriculture and Kenya Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries Development, and Rothamsted Research UK. Push-pull limits crop losses by stemborers and striga weeds. At the same time, it conserves soil and water while preserving biodiversity.

The approach involves trapping stemborers on highly susceptible trap plants (the pull) and driving them away from the maize crop using repellent intercrops (the push). Plants which repel stemborers as well as inhibit striga weed have been identified. These plants also provide high quality feed for livestock, thereby increasing productivity of milk and meat. Over 2000 farmers in Kenya have confirmed in on-farm trials that push-pull results in a significant reduction in stemborer pests and striga infestation and leads to higher yields of maize.

If you are a farmer or extension staff looking for practical advice on how to establish and manage a push-pull plot to control stemborers and striga weed download the handbook. It is expected that the information herein will enhance adoption of the technology and increase maize and livestock productivity while conserving the environment.

Available downloads

A primer on planting and managing ‘push-pull’ fields for stemborer and striga weed control in maize

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Striga weeds

Striga or 'witchweeds' are parasitic weeds that affect cereal crops in many parts of Africa, reducing production from 30 to 100%, or complete loss of the crop. If maize plants are attacked by both stemborers and striga weed, the yield... Continue Reading…


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