The ‘push-pull’ approach to controlling stem borers in maize

| August 6, 2018

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This week’s Farmer story about Fall armyworm from Ethiopia talks about farmers who are having success with the push-pull method. Our Script of the week gives more detail about using this method, in this case to control the maize stem borer.

The stem borer is one of the major insect pests affecting maize in East and Central Africa. Stem borers cause maize plants to become brown and stunted, and the damage can seriously reduce yields.

Scientists from the International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology discovered two different plants that affect the stem borer’s behaviour—one that can “push” stem borers away from maize and one that can “pull” them away from maize. Together with staff from Kenya’s Ministry of Agriculture and the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute, they developed what they call a ”push-pull” strategy to control stem borers, which they have introduced to farmers.

The strategy is described in the script. It requires farmers to plant Napier grass and Desmodium in their fields to help them increase maize yields and improve soil fertility. (Note that, for Fall armyworm management in Ethiopia, a species of grass called Brachiaria is recommended instead of Napier grass).

Before broadcasting this program, you may want to find out if and where farmers in your region can get seed for these plants.