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Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Integrated pest management: A balanced approach to pest control

By Bob Aston
The Agricultural Sector Development Support Programme (ASDSP)-Laikipia, is holding a two day Training of Trainers (TOT) workshop for 30 agriculture extension officers on integrated pest management. Hon Jane Putunoi, Laikipia County CEC for Agriculture, Livestock, and Fisheries Development opened the training at the Agricultural Machinery Services (AMS) Hall in Nyahururu, Laikipia County on February 22, 2016.
Hon. Jane Putunoi giving the opening remarks

Speaking during the training, Mr. Lincoln Njiru, Laikipia County Crops officer noted that it is important to institute an Integrated pest management to help keep a balanced ecosystem, to promote a healthy environment, to save money as it focuses a lot on prevention as opposed to control, to ensure pesticides become ineffective and to maintain a good public image.

He said that integrated pest management reduces the use of pesticide inputs, which offers improved operator safety, reduced environmental impact, reduced risk of exceeding the minimum residual levels and reduction of pesticide resistance.
“Integrated pest management aims to suppress pests like weeds, invertebrates, disease agents, and vertebrates to below economic injury levels. It is an ideal way of controlling pests without relying solely on pesticides,” said Mr. Njiru.
He urged farmers to observe the three components of integrated pest management that include monitoring and identification of pests, selection of best management practices and recording and evaluation of results.
Identification and monitoring of pests involves surveillance or scouting on a regular basis to identify and monitor pest populations or the resulting damage or losses.
Selection of the best management tactics ensures use of methods that are effective, economical, practical, and environmentally sound.
Recording and evaluation helps to determine how well an integrated pest management programme tactics are working and their impact on the environment before implementing them.
He said that integrated pest management is site specific as it involves taking actions to anticipate pest outbreaks and to prevent potential damage.
Mr. Lincoln Njiru during the training
He noted that prevention and suppression techniques are the main pest control goals. The techniques help to coordinate the use of multiple tactics into a single integrated system. 
The pest control tactics or strategies chosen depend on the nature of the pest, the pest environment, and tolerable or economic considerations.
“When using an IPM program, it is imperative to use the most effective methods which are least harmful to people and the environment,” said Mr. Njiru.
He noted that continuous use of pesticides from the same class of chemicals such as organophosphates or pyrethroids increases the likelihood that resistance will develop within the insect pest population.
“An integrated pest management programme must endure to manage pesticide resistance by employing tactics that delay or discourage pesticide resistance,” said Mr. Njiru.
He said that integrated pest management like biological control, habitat manipulation, modification of cultural practices, chemical control, and use of resistant varieties ensures the protection of the ecosystem.
ASDSP-Laikipia is keen in ensuring maize value chain groups adopt climate smart production technologies through use of adaptable seeds, soil fertility analysis and integrated pest management. Developing the competence of the extension officers would enable them train 30 farmer groups in the County.

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