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Habitat management strategies for the control of cereal stemborers and striga in maize in Kenya

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  19 September 2011

Z. R. Khan
International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology, P.O. Box 30772, Nairobi, Kenya
J. A. Pickett
IACR-Rothamsted, Harpenden, Hertfordshire AL5 2JQ, UK
L. Wadhams
IACR-Rothamsted, Harpenden, Hertfordshire AL5 2JQ, UK
F. Muyekho
Kenya Agricultural Research Institute, P.O. Box 450, Kitale, Kenya
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Maize is the principal food and cash crop for millions of people in the predominantly mixed crop-livestock farming systems in Kenya. Stemborers and striga (Striga hermonthica) are major constraints to increased maize production in eastern Africa. An intercropping and trap crop system has been developed, using a ‘push-pull’ strategy, for the control of stemborers in small scale maize farming systems. The ‘push-pull’ strategy involves trapping stemborers on highly susceptible trap plants (pull) and driving them away from the crop using repellent intercrops (push). Napier grass (Pennisetum purpureum Schumach) and Sudan grass (Sorghum vulgare sudanense Stapf.) are used as trap plants, whereas molasses grass (Melinis minutiflora Beauv.) and two species of desmodium (Desmodium uncinatum Jacq. and Desmodium intortum Urb.) repel ovipositing stemborers. The integrated ‘push-pull’ strategies were shown to increase parasitism of stemborers through attraction of parasitoids to one of the intercrops, molasses grass. The leguminous intercrop, silver leaf desmodium, drastically reduced damage to maize by the parasitic weed, striga. This aspect was further investigated and developed for integration with stemborer control. On-farm trials with farmers in Kenya have shown significant yield increases in maize farming.


Le maïs est la principale nourriture et culture commerciale pour des millions de personnes pratiquant le système agricole prédominant au Kenya, associant la culture et l'élevage. Les foreurs des tiges et le striga (Striga hermonthica) sont les contraintes majeures de l'accroissement de la production de maïs en Afrique de l'Est. Un système de cultures associées et pièges, utilisant une stratégie de répulsion-attraction, à été développé pour contrôler les foreurs des tiges dans les petites exploitations agricoles. La stratégie de répulsion-attraction consiste à piéger les foreurs de tiges sur des plantes pièges fortement attractives (attraction) et à les éloigner de la culture en utilisant des cultures associées répulsives (répulsion). On utilise l'herbe à éléphants (Pennisetum purpureum Schumach) et l'herbe du Soudan (Sorghum vulgare sudanense Stapf) comme plantes pièges tandis que l'herbe à mélasse (Melinis minutiflora Beauv) et deux espèces de desmodium (Desmodium uncinatum Jacq. et Desmodium intortum Urb.) repoussent les foreurs de tiges prêts à pondre. La stratégie de répulsion-attraction permet d'augmenter le parasitisme des foreurs des tiges en attirant les parasitoïdes vers l'une des cultures associées, l'herbe à mélasse. L'association du desmodium à feuilles argentées (Légumineuse), réduit de façon drastique les dégâts causés au maïs par l'herbe parasite striga. Ce résultat a été approfondi et développé pour être associé avec la lutte contre les foreurs des tiges. Des essais au champ réalisés avec des fermiers au Kenya ont montré des augmentations de rendements significatives dans la culture du maïs.

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