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Journal Article

Journal article

Farmers' perceptions of cotton pests and their management in western Kenya  [2012]

Midega, Charles A.O.; Nyang'au, Isaac M.; Pittchar, Jimmy; Birkett, Michael A.; et al.

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Cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) production in western Kenya is severely affected by insect pests, resulting in poor yields in spite of the growing demand for the commodity. One of the key constraints to establishing effective pest management approaches for smallholder farmers is the lack of adequate information about farmers' knowledge, perceptions and practices in pest management. This study was therefore conducted to (1) evaluate farmers' knowledge and perceptions of cotton pests; (2) examine farmers' current practices in managing cotton pests; (3) identify pest management challenges and intervention opportunities in order to develop efficient integrated pest management (IPM) approaches. A total of 250 cotton farmers were interviewed in the five main cotton-growing districts of western Kenya, and data collected using semi-structured questionnaire interviews and focused group discussions. Results showed that farmers were aware of insect pests and considered them the main constraint to cotton production in the region, causing significant yield losses. Majority of the farmers were however only able to identify pests descriptively while a few mentioned them by their local names. Cotton bollworm (Helicoverpa armigera (Hübner), Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) and cotton stainers (Dysdercus spp., Hemiptera: Pyrrhocoridae), mentioned by local names as ‘Nyanginja’ and ‘Oero yuore’ respectively, were considered the most important pests in the region. Pest management where
practiced relied mainly on pesticides, although majority of the farmers did not effectively apply them due to high costs and shortage of appropriate pesticides, lack of application equipment and limited knowledge of all pest management approaches, including IPM and pests' natural enemies. Moreover, farmers generally did not receive any extension services on pest management. These results indicate a need to develop an IPM approach based on farmers' practice of mixed cropping through a multidisciplinary approach which also addresses the weak extension systems and creates a learning platform to enhance farmers' knowledge acquisition and sharing on pests of cotton and their management.

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Crop protection

ISSN : 0261-2194