Icipe on 30th March 2011, launched a 2.9 million Euros, European Union-funded
project, which will adapt the Centre’s highly successful ‘Push-Pull’
technology to climate change.
Known as ADOPT – the Adaptation and Dissemination of the ‘Push-Pull’ Technology to Climate Change – the initiative will directly benefit 50,000 smallholder cereal-livestock farmers. It will also improve food availability for half a million people living in areas that are dry and vulnerable to climate change in Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia.
‘Push-Pull’ (www.push-pull.net), a novel farming system developed by icipe, Rothamsted Research (UK) and national partners in East Africa, simultaneously addresses the major constraints of cereal-based farming system, which include striga weeds, stemborer pests and poor soil fertility. The strategy involves intercropping cereals with a repellent plant such as desmodium, and planting an attractive trap plant, uch as Napier grass, as a border crop around this intercrop. Stemborers are repelled or deterred away from the target food crop (push) while, at the same time, they are attracted to the trap crop (pull), leaving the food crop protected. In addition, desmodium stimulates the germination of Striga seeds and inhibits their growth after it germinates. The technology also provides high quality animal fodder. Furthermore, since both companion plant species are perennial, ‘push–pull’ conserves soil moisture and improves soil health and beneficial biodiversity.
Speaking during the launch, icipe Director General, Prof. Christian Borgemeister said: “In the past 17 years, ‘push-pull’ has been adopted by over 40,000 smallholder farm families in East Africa, resulting in maize yields increases between one ton to 3.5 tonnes per hectare, with minimal inputs. This action has improved the food security for close to 250,000 people in the region. icipe’s target is to extend the benefits of ‘push-pull’ to over one million people by 2020. Moreover, the rising uncertainties in the region’s rain-fed agriculture, due to the continent’s vulnerability to climate change, has created more demand for ‘push-pull’, and its further adaptation to withstand the increasingly adverse and changeable conditions. The funding from the EU will take us closer to achieving these two goals.”
“ADOPT will focus on crops grown in dry areas, for instance, sorghum and millet, including research on trap and intercrops adapted to conditions associated with climate change. This requires working in partnership with national, regional and international organisations, and most importantly with farmers across the region,” added Dr Zeyaur Khan, the leader of the ‘push-pull’ programme.
Dr. Peter Sturesson, Counsellor for Rural Development at the EU Delegation to Kenya, noted: “ADOPT fully responds to the five result areas of the Commission’s Food Security Thematic Programme (FSTP), Research and Technology component, which includes: the delivery of pro-poor innovations; development of research programmes responding to beneficiaries’ needs; enhancement of the active role of low-income smallholder farmers; exchange of experience and knowledge through scientific networks; and the generation of synergy and complementarity with other EU research programmes.”
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