|Abstracts on Sustainable Agriculture (GTZ, 1992, 423 p.)|
|Abstracts on plant protection|
Trop. Pest Management, 37, (1), 1991, pp. 71-74
This survey was undertaken to gain an insight into current farming practices for cowpea, and to understand farmers' perceptions of the impact of insects on cowpea production, thus facilitating the development of appropriate IPM strategies that would be economic, efficient and feasible.
Cowpea was grown on smallholdings, mostly as an intercrop. In the intercrop plots the proportion of cowpea was mostly below 50%; it was grown either for grain or fodder or both. Most of the grains were for household consumption and the small excess sold in the market. Cowpea haulm was used as fodder for feeding animals and livestock. This would suggest that cowpea as currently grown is a secondary crop requiring low inputs.
There is a large deficit for cowpea grains, particularly in southern
Nigeria where it is an important component of human diets. This deficit is offset by imports from the north, and from neighbouring countries such as Chad, Cameroun and Niger. Cowpea can be grown throughout Nigeria, and the potential for increasing yields on farmers' fields is enormous. A major constraint limiting grain yields was identified by the farmers as insect pests. But the farmers were incapable of taking positive action against the pests for various reasons. These included lack of capital to purchase costly inputs, access to improved seeds with some levels of resistance to insect pests, and lack of education on pest problems and control measures. Therefore, a rational pest control approach should be integrative and include:
- educating the farmers about available control tactics;
- identifying and developing IPM strategies that are low cost;
- creating an awareness in regional administrations of the necessity for IPM inputs to be readily available and affordable.
Most of the farmers interviewed planted their cowpea as intercrops with other food crops. The majority of farmers were unaware of the beneficial implications this may have for insect pest management. If cowpea production remains at subsistence level, with low inputs, farmers should be encouraged to continue with this cropping system, i.e. intercropping.
In Minjibirr, 80% of the farmers interviewed reported that cowpea was grown for fodder to feed cattle and livestock. In the Sudan savannah, with little and infrequent rainfail, vegetation for livestock feed is hard to get. The inhabitants in this area keep large herds of livestock and wander over long distances in search of feed during the dry periods.
Therefore, fodder from crop residues is very important for the inhabitants. The emphasis on fodder in this area is in conflict with IPM practices aimed at increasing grain production. Several workers have shown that cowpea plants become more vegetative as a result of insect attack in the early growth stages. Hence, more fodder is produced when the plants are damaged by insect pests. Therefore, in breeding cowpea cultivars for this area, emphasis should be on dual purpose for both grains and fodder, and pest control strategies should focus less on reducing direct insect damage. The focus should be on selecting cultivars with ability to compensate vegetatively for damage, and also translate some of their compensatory vegetation into grain yields, thus providing moderate fodder and grain yields. The farmers' preference for early-maturing cowpea in this area minimizes crop hazards resulting from the sparse and erratic rainfall.
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Africa, Senegal, field trial, pearl millet, insect pests, fertilizer, FAO, USAID, CILSS