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Pearl millet, Pennisetum glaucum (L.) R. Br. is attacked by over 100 species of insect pests, but only a few of these are of economic importance. The two major ones, the millet stem borer, Coniesta ignefusalis Hampson and the earhead caterpillar Heliocheilus albipunctella de Joannis have been the subject of research in the Sahel during the last decade. The various methods that have been suggested for the control of these species are briefly discussed. Generally, the control strategy adopted by farmers involves the use of cultural operations that will reduce insect damage. There are no control measures that have been developed for farmers. The more scientific methods that have been suggested are the results from research trials and experiments. These have several limitations. Future perspectives and considerations for developing sound and practical farmer-oriented practices are discussed.
In the years prior to independence, farmers had access to the international market through the production of export crops which at that time received considerable input from research. Access to export crops has dwindled, support for research by national governments is disappointing, human resource development is inadequate, donor funding is uncoordinated, and the food crisis has taken on political dimensions. The assumption that direct importation of western technology can solve the problems of Africa is no longer valid in the face of several failures. The challenge to national agricultural research systems and the problems associated with the generation or adapting of farmer-oriented, location-specific technologies for sustaining agricultural production are discussed. Examples are drawn from India and an agenda for action, involving national governments, the international agricultural research centres and donors, in resolving these problems is presented.
Several species of Chilo are serious pests of cereal crops. The important species attacking cereals are Chilo agamemnon, C. orichalcociliellus and C. partellus on maize and sorghum; C. auricilius and C. zacconius on sugar-cane, and rice; C. suppressalis on rice; and C. sacchariphagus indicus on sugar-cane. Insects are reared in the laboratory on natural and artificial diets for various purposes, namely for insecticide testing, hormone and pheromone manipulation, biological control, host-plant resistance, etc. Rearing of an insect in the laboratory requires rearing facilities, colony establishment, research and development of rearing techniques, resources, and maintenance of insect quality. All these aspects for rearing major Chilo spp. have been discussed. However, detailed information is available only for C. partellus and C. suppressalis. Techniques used for resistance screening and damage evaluation against spotted stem borer, C. partellus using naturally occurring population and artificial infestation are described.
Pearl millet, Pennisetum americanum L. occupies a large proportion of the area growing millets in Africa. Consequently the insect pests that attack this species have received attention over other millets. A list of the major species is presented. Actual data on losses due to insect pests on pearl millet are not readily available. Crop loss assessment methods using incidence and damage ratios are discussed. Quantitative losses determined from insecticide trials at research station are also presented.
This paper reports the results of extensive pest surveys conducted on farmers' fields and pest population studies at two national research stations between 1979 and 1981 in Burkina Faso. Major findings indicate that, under normal planting conditions, infestation of the sorghum shootfly, Atherigona seccata is very low in farmers' fields. This pest appears to be restricted to research stations. Stem borer infestation is caused by a complex of species, and species predominance varies with rainfall. South of latitude 12°N, Busseola fusca is the predominant species but further north it is replaced by Acigona ignefusalis, which is a primary pest of pearl millet. Panicle damage caused by the sorghum midge, Contarinia sorghicola, varies with season; is usually very low in the dry northern Sahelian zone but severe south of latitude 13°N. Maximum midge populations occurred between mid-September and early October.
Among several species of insect pests that attack the millet crop, the earhead caterpillar, Raghuva albipunctella de Joannis and Acigona ignefusalis Hmps., are considered the major pests. The constraints against the successful implementation of an integrated pest management programme of these insects are examined. The relative importance and significance of host plant resistance in such a programme is compared against other modalities.
The use of insecticides is negated by lack of cash value returns, water supply, trained personnel and poor delivery system. Cultural practices, such as the synchronisation of early planting, destruction of harvest residues and end-of-season ploughing, have the potential for reducing carry-over populations. However, the difficulties in their implementation range from farmer education and efficiency to changes in traditional practices and introduction of new labour intensive practices after harvest. While it appears that natural enemies are taking a gradual toll on R. albipunctella, they appear inefficient in controlling A. ignefusalis. A range of plant characters have been identified: tillering in certain varieties as a form of tolerance to borers; maturity cycles that result in escape (pseudo-resistance) from Raghuva infestation, hairiness in relation to preference for oviposition and head compactness in deterring larval penetration into millet heads. Most of these characters are common in landrace types. The real problem appears to be one of incorporating and utilising the identified resistance into germplasm sources which possess other desirable agronomic characters that the farmer requires. This implies multi-disciplinary effort which is the basis for integrated pest management. In most of Africa, and in the Sahel in particular, this basis is remotely present.
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