Prof. Khan shares breakthrough discoveries
If Dr. Khan’s research is disseminated on a global scale, it could change the world’s conventional agriculture for the better.
Dr. Zeyaur Khan has been conducting research on corn crops for the past few decades with an organization by the name of Icipe to help understand and improve the developing world and its agricultural practices.
Over the years, Kahn and his team have developed a revolutionary new system that uses natural processes in the place of modern agricultural practice to completely change the way indigenous peoples produce crops. His Push-Pull system could possibly be the answer to many of North America’s current major agricultural problems.
Much of modern agriculture in the developed world is typically based on systems that grow one type of crop and require much synthetic intervention from humans in the form of genetic modification, pesticides and fertilizers. These have all been shown to inflict repeated damage on the longevity of the soil and the long-term biological and economic values of the farmland.
The decorated plant scientist has been developing his system for many years and as a result, has grown into a relatively simple solution to providing stable food for hundreds of thousands of people throughout Africa; a continent with the lowest production per hectare of land in the world. His systems have proved to generate crop yields that are around four to five times the original output without his system, all while remaining sustainable both environmentally and economically.
“We really need more people like Dr. Khan doing research of this nature. I feel that there has been not enough focus on natural plant pest and pathogen control methods and we will need more efficient and long lasting food systems if we are going to feed future populations. It is very exciting and promising to see work like this being done,” eighth-semester Sustainable Plant and Soil Systems major Cameron Collins said.
The Push-Pull system started as a project to control a single pest of corn crops, the stem borer, that was causing 1.5 billion USD in crop loss and damage for the farmers but slowly evolved to address many other pest problems as well, all using natural processes with the specially selected intercrop and boarder crops, potentially saving over 3 billion USD in crop loss annually.
The major problems facing Kenya’s farmers are insect pests of corn as well as parasitic plants that sapped the nutrients out of the roots, resulting in severe stunted growth. Using a nitrogen fixing inter-crop, with boarder crops that act as traps and refuge for the pests. The plants in the field release compounds that help attract predators of the pest insects as well as drive the parasitic plants out of the fields. These crops are also perennial and can stay in the field for many years, even when cut to feed livestock and increase milk production.
These systems have been refined even further as of late, developing varieties that are hardier so his system can be applied to new growing regions without the fear of failure due to variations in droughts brought on by climate change.
Dr. Kahn’s work has been implemented and recorded on several farms in Kenya and not only showed control of parasitic plants and pest insects but additionally, his methods have increased the nitrogen fixation in the soils, increased organic matter, increased carbon content and sequestration, controlling soil erosion and reduces the spread of plant diseases, all while making the farmer more financially secure, better fed and much happier.
“His work could be viewed in many different ways and I think that if people see his work producing the results it is then it is more likely that scientists and producers will seek similar methods to be adapted to their local crop production. His team really proved that letting the plants and the soils solve our agricultural problems could really work. It’s like he hit three birds with one stone,” second-semester Sustainable Plant and Soil Systems major Liam Bannon said.
Dr. Khan and his ground-breaking research has been noticed by several major organizations that seek the spread of his technique not to mention a myriad of international agricultural awards. Organizations like the FAO of the United Nations and the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation all seek to spread the knowledge that has been gained on his small research farms.
Dr. Khan is a Principal Scientist at the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology and an adjunct Professor at Cornell University. His areas of research interest are insect chemical ecology, behaviour, plant-plant and insect-plant interactions and climate change.
He has dedicated 30 years of his academic and research career to studying and applying creativity and innovation in science, particularly in the field of entomology and agriculture to provide practical solutions for real problems of crop pests associated with reduction in agricultural productivity.
He is a fellow of several esteemed agricultural societies and has authored/co-authored over 140 scientific papers in referred journals, over 10 book chapters, five books, and several training booklets and brochures for farmers.
Major international prize to push-pull lead scientist, icipe’s Prof Zeyaur Khan
icipe researcher Prof Zeyaur Khan has won the prestigious Louis Malassis Prize for Outstanding Career in Agricultural Development, awarded on Monday March 16, 2015 during a special session of the 3rd Global Science Conference on Climate-Smart Agriculture in Montpellier, France by the Agropolis Foundation.
Prof Khan has been recognised for his work developing the ‘push-pull’ system to control pests and weeds, with his team in Kenya at icipe, the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology, and colleagues at Rothamsted Research in the United Kingdom.
More than 96,000 farmers in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Ethiopia have already adopted push–pull technology to manage Striga weeds and stemborers pests, which can cause complete yield losses, estimated to cost US$14 billion each year in sub-Saharan Africa, and affecting more than 40% of its arable land.
“I am happy that I have devoted my life to developing and adapting push-pull, and helping to bring food security to Africa,” said Prof Khan. “My aim is to reach at least 10 million people with the technology, while expanding the science behind push–pull to more cropping systems and different agroecosystems.”
The system is simple, but powerful. Cereals such as maize, sorghum or rice are grown with two companion plants, Desmodium and Napier grass, which together tackle stemborers and the parasitic weed Striga. Desmodium, grown between the rows of maize, acts as a repellent plant, driving stemborers from the cereal crop (the ‘push’). Napier grass, planted as a border to the plot, acts as a trap plant, attracting stemborers (the ‘pull’).
As an additional benefit from the technology, the companion plants provide nutritious, high-value animal fodder, which farmers can sell or feed to stall-fed dairy and other animals. This approach helps farmers increase food production and raise farm income without the need to buy pesticides and fertilizers. Desmodium also suppresses other weeds and improves soil fertility by fixing nitrogen.
Push-pull is a perfect example of a practical, affordable, low-input production system and with significant impact on the livelihoods of the poorest African farmers.
“This is a technology that is making a difference for many farmers, but particularly for women by significantly reducing the weeding task, a back-breaking task that is often left to women and children. It has also the potential to eradicate one of the major food security threats, Striga, in sub-Saharan Africa,” said Dr Segenet Kelemu, Director-General and CEO of icipe.
In recent years, the push-pull programme has been supported by the European Union (EU) and UK Aid, and icipe has recently signed a second three-year agreement with the EU to spread the benefits of push-pull more widely across Africa. The Biovision Foundation and McKnight Foundation are among the many other organisations that support this research.
The EU have congratulated Prof Khan on his award, saying they are glad to be supporting this initiative and other icipe programmes.
“Initiatives like push-pull are not only environmentally appropriate, but also contribute directly towards addressing food insecurity in Africa,” said Dominique Davoux, Head of Agriculture and Rural Development for the EU Delegation to Kenya.
Prof Khan has built an extensive network of partners to ensure sustained dissemination and uptake of the technology among poor communities. He has also trained over 50 PhD and MSc graduates, mostly Africans.
Support for push-pull and icipe
Push-pull is supported by the European Union, UK Aid, the Biovision Foundation, McKnight Foundation and other local and international organisations.
Core funds for icipe’s work are provided by the Government of Kenya, the Swedish International Development Cooperation (Sida), the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and UK Aid.
icipe is grateful for the support of its donors from around the world, with funds provided by governments, private foundations and UN agencies. icipe also benefits from partnerships with universities, research institutes and the private sector.
The Louis Malassis Prize for Outstanding Career in Agricultural Development
The Louis Malassis Prize for Outstanding Career in Agricultural Development is awarded to someone whose career has been devoted to agricultural development in the last 20 years. He/she should still be active in the field of research, innovation, capacity building, development or policy.
Prof Khan is the first person to win the prize for Outstanding Career in Agricultural Development, named in honour of French agronomist Prof Louis Malassis, who founded Agropolis, an international campus based in Montpellier that brings together research organizations and institutes for higher learning in agriculture.
The 3rd Louis Malassis Prize ceremony was held during the 3rd Global Science Conference on Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA2015) on 16 March 2015 in Montpellier, France.
Breakthrough in fight against Napier Stunt Disease
discovery is a key milestone as it will help farmers increase
production by planting fodder grass varieties that are
resistant to the disease. Researches have identified this
bacteria that causes Napier Stunt Disease.A three year
study at the International Centre of Insect Physiology
and Ecology to boost production in dairy farming sought
to identify the varieties of Napier grass that are resistant
to the disease and educate farmers on how to contain them.
Farmers in Nyanza and western Kenya have been fighting Napier Stunt Disease for decades.... Read more..
Farmers begin planting
disease-resistant Napier grass in Kenya, Uganda
in western Kenya have begun planting disease-resistant
varieties of Napier grass, the major source of fodder
for smallholder dairy farms in East Africa, to begin
to reverse the drastic cut in fodder production due
to Napier Stunt Disease (NSD) since the 1990s. More...
The launch of the McKnight-funded project,17th March 2012
of the McKnight-funded project titled ‘Saving the Smallholder Dairy industry in East Africa: Validation and Implementation of an Integrated Management
Approach for Napier Stunt Disease was held at Rock -Motel - Kisumu on 17th March 2014.Farmer perception studies showed that more than 90% of the farmers interviewed reported that the Napier grass in their farms had stunting disease. In Siaya, 55% of farmers who were
interviewed indicated that the Napier grass in their farms had been infested by the disease. Notable effects of the disease were reported as decreases in;
fodder biomass, income and milk yields.Prevalence of the disease was also noted in Ethiopia, Uganda and Tanzania.
icipe research selected
for publication in high impact journal
Two papers by the icipe Push-Pull team in collaboration
with Rothamsted Research have been selected for publication
in the most recent issue of the high impact journal
(impact factor 6.23) Philosophical Transactions of the
Royal Society B, published online on 17 February 2014.
The Journal is ranked 6th out of 83 in Biology, and
each issue is devoted to a specific area of the biological
sciences, with the aim of defining a research frontier
that is advancing rapidly, often bridging traditional
disciplines. All contributions are invited and the Journal
does not accept unsolicited papers. The issue in which
the icipe articles are published focuses on achieving
food and environmental security, and the new approaches
that can be utilised to close the existing gap. Both
papers are contributions to 16 invited papers to a Discussion
Meeting Issue ‘Achieving food and environmental security:
new approaches to close the gap’. The first of the icipe
papers discusses the contribution of the Push-Pull innovation
towards attaining food security for one million poor
people in sub-Saharan Africa by 2020. The second paper
outlines the way through which sustainable crop protection
can be reached through seeds, by exploiting natural
constitutive and inducible defence pathways. The journal
has chosen a photo of climate-adapted push-pull technology
as its cover image (http://rstb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/369/1639.cover-expansion)
Prof. Zeyaur Khan, icipe
TRO Distinguished Fellow and leader of push-pull, elected
Stories of our Success: positive
outcomes from push-pull farming systems
Zeyaur Khan, icipe Thomas Risley Odhiambo Distinguished
Fellow and leader of the widely-reputed push-pull programme,
has been elected a Fellow of TWAS, The World Academy
of Sciences (http://twas.ictp.it). The Fellowship of
TWAS is awarded to internationally renowned scientists,
who have made remarkable contribution to the advancement
of science and science-based sustainable development
in the South. Prof. Khan’s election as a Fellow of TWAS
adds to his growing list of accolades for his role in
developing and disseminating push-pull, an innovative
technology that simultaneously addresses the three key
constraints of cereal production in Africa, which are
stem borers, striga weed and poor soil fertility. More.....
has published a report titled Stories of our Success:
positive outcomes from push-pull farming systems, which
chronicles the partnership between the Centre, farmers,
national and international research institutes, donors,
government agricultural officials, community-based organisations,
non-governmental organisations and the private sector,
towards improving agricultural sustainability, food security
and overall livelihoods in East Africa. Push-pull is a
technology that addresses the main constraints of cereal
production in sub Saharan Africa, which are stemborers,
the parasitic striga weed and soil fertility. To date,
the technology has been adopted by about 68,000 farmers
in Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Uganda. In the recently
published Report, farmers share their experiences with
push–pull, revealing the direct results of the technology,
which include substantial cereal yield increases, additional
significant benefit for dairy farming, and its overall
impact on household incomes. The Report also discusses
the specific ways in which push-pull has contributed to
the Millennium Development Goals (sdgs), in particular
MDG 1: eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, and more
broadly sdgs 2, 3 and 7, which respectively focus on universal
primary education, promoting gender equality and ensuring
environmental sustainability. Further, Stories of our
Success: positive outcomes from push-pull farming systems,
looks ahead and beyond the sdgs, which are due to expire
in 2015. The Report shares experiences and important lessons
from push–pull, which could be useful in the development
and implementation of a set of Sustainable Development
Goals (SDGs), envisioned globally as the post-2015 approach
development pathway. Download
Zeyaur R. Khan with the European Union Head of Delegation
to Kenya, Ambassador Lodewijk Briët
and the Director-General of icipe Prof. Christian
Borgemeister, visiting the EU-funded project on “Adaptation
and Dissemination of the 'Push–Pull' Technology (ADOPT).
European Union Head of Delegation to Kenya, Ambassador
Lodewijk Briët on 23rd and 24th July 2013 visited the
EU-funded project on “Adaptation and Dissemination of
the 'Push–Pull' Technology (ADOPT): A Conservation Agriculture
Approach for Smallholder Cereal–Livestock Production
in Drier Areas to Withstand Climate Change”. He was
accompanied by Mrs Nicola Chausse-Briët, Mr Dominique
Davoux - Head of Rural Development, Agriculture and
Food Security Section and Mr Stephen Wathome - Programme
Manager, Agriculture and Rural Development (both members
of the Delegation of the European Union to Kenya). The
chairman of the governing council of icipe, Prof. John
Pickett, FRS, CBE, and the Director-General of icipe,
Prof. Christian Borgemeister, FRS, accompanied the delegation.
They visited the climate-resilient push–pull technology
on-station experimental sites at icipe’s Thomas Odhiambo
Campus in Mbita and farmers in Siaya, Vihiga and Kisumu
West districts. More.....
Prof. Zeyaur R. Khan
receives icipe’s first TRO Distinguished Research Fellow
icipe designated Prof. Zeyaur R. Khan, leader of the
widely reputed icipe Push–Pull Programme, the first
recipient of its highest honour, the Thomas Risley Odhiambo
Distinguished Research Fellow (TRO DRF), in recognition
of his outstanding achievements in the advancement of
agricultural sciences. The award giving ceremony was
carried out on 7th November 2012 during the Centre's
2012 Annual Governing Council Meeting held at icipe's
Thomas Risley Odhiambo Ca mpus (TOC), Mbita Point, on
the shores of Lake Victoria. In attendance were 11 icipe
Governing Council members, two members of the Sponsoring
Group of icipe (SGI), icipe Management and staff. More.....
Prof. Zeyaur Khan, icipe
scientist and leader of the push-pull programme, awarded
18th September 2012, Prof. Zeyaur Khan, the leader of
the widely-reputed icipe Push-Pull Programme,
received the 2011 TWAS Prize for Agriculture. TWAS award
ceremony was held in Tianjin, China hosted by Chinese
Academy of Sciences. Prof. Khan is recognized for his
discovery and wide-scale implementation of the Push-Pull
Technology – a pro-poor scientific innovation for
enhancing food security and environmental sustainability
in Africa.The TWAS Prizes, that include a medal and
prize money, are awarded by TWAS, The Academy of Sciences
for the Developing World, to honour individual scientists
in developing countries in recognition of an outstanding
contribution to knowledge. Based in Trieste, Italy,
TWAS promotes scientific excellence and capacity in
the South for science-based sustainable development,
through a range of programmes that includes research
grants; awards and prizes; fellowships and associate
Publication in Journal
of Chemical Ecology
A recent study published in the Journal of Chemical
Ecology (JCE) by scientists from icipe and Rothamsted
International showed that maize varieties popular with
small-holder farmers in East Africa, when attacked by
stemborers, produce volatiles that attract the pests’
natural enemies. Moreover, the cover of the March 2012
issue of JCE shows a farmer’s push-pull field from Kisumu
district in western Kenya... ..More
Award honours key
figure in African science
An award for outstanding achievements by African scientists
has been created in memory of Thomas Odhiambo, the Kenyan
scientist who helped found the African Academy of Sciences
and TWAS (The Academy of Sciences for the Developing
World). Odhiambo, who died in 2003, is regarded as a
visionary whose desire for home-grown scientific solutions
saw him initiate and nurture many projects at the International
Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe) in Kenya.
Push-Pull Programme wins
three awards for this year’s GC Scholar Prize for the
best published science paper
Tamiru, A., Bruce, T.J.A., Woodcock, C.M., Caulfield,
J.C., Midega, C.A.O., Ogol, C.K.P.O., Mayon, P., Birkett,
M.A., Pickett, J.A., Khan, Z.R., 2011. Maize landraces
recruit egg and larval parasitoids in response to egg
deposition by a herbivore. Ecology Letters 14: 1075–1083.
Entomological Society of America (ESA), 12th
- 16th November 2011
Prof. Zeyaur Khan attended the meeting of the Entomological
Society of America (ESA) in Nevada, USA.
Eastern Africa JSPS (Japanese Society for the
Promotion of Sciences) alumni association on ‘Africa
- Japan science and technology partnership for sustainable
development', 2nd - 3rd November 2011
Dr. Charles Midega attended the workshop in Nairobi,
Push-Pull fields visitation in western Kenya
by Prof. David S. Powlson, from Rothamsted Research,
UK, 1st November 2011
A visit to Push-Pull fields in western Kenya by Prof.
David S. Powlson, Prof. Zeyaur Khan and Jimmy Pittchar.
1st workshop on developing a Push-Pull approach
for management of cotton pests in Africa and Northeast
Brazil, 22nd - 25th October 2011
Dr. Charles Midega attended the workshop in Campina
25th Anniversary celebrations of the World Food
Prize Foundation, 11th-14th October 2011
Prof.Christian Borgemeister, Prof.Zeyaur Khan, Dr.Charles
Midega, Jimmy Pittchar and Matilda Ouma attended the
celebrations in Des Moines, USA.
Joint Conservation Agriculture
Workshop of EU-Funded Projects, 29th- 30th August 2011
workshop on The European Union (EU) funded conservation
agriculture projects in Kenya was convened at icipe,
Mbita. The workshop was organised to provide an opportunity
for experience sharing and to strengthen linkages among
the grantees. The EU-Conservation Agriculture projects
were; Adaptation of Push-Pull technology to climate
change (ADOPT)-icipe, Conservation Agriculture Knowledge
and Information Management in Africa- African Conservation
Tillage Network (ACT) and Kenya Dryland Farming Project
(KDFP) - FARM-Africa. The Conservation Agriculture stakeholders
which participated were; The Kenya Agricultural Research
Institute (KARI), African Agricultural Technology Foundation
(AATF) and one Acre Fund. Seed
Companies Workshop, 5th - 6th September
demand for desmodium seed is high in the East African
region. This is attributed from the increased number
of farmers adopting Push-Pull technology to control
striga weed, stemborers, improving of soil fertility
and for fodder production. Using the results of the
survey conducted by icipe during Agricultural shows
in 2010, about 26% of the attendants bought desmodium
seeds and in 2011, 85% wanted desmodium seeds, but could
not get any to buy during the same show. This increased
demand for desmodium seeds has not been met with enough
supply in the market. The seed companies’ workshop was
convened by the Alliance of Green Revolution
in Africa (AGRA) to discuss and deliberates
on the role; seed companies National and international
research institutions, Agro-dealers and farmers can
play in the production and distribution of desmodium
seeds to meet the ever increasing demand in the Eastern
McKnight Midyear Review Meetings
on Napier Stunt Disease and Participatory Video,
15th-16th August 2011
two workshops were organised by the McKnight regional
team to provide the Project team with basic outline
of what, who, where we are. It was aimed to enable the
project teams to look at the changes achieved as proposed
in the projects, and if not; what could contribute to
this and what can be done to address these challenges.
It also provided an opportunity to discuss and share
what has been done so far or to be done later. The review
was meant to give the project teams an opportunity to
ask Questions such as “What worked well? What could
have worked better? What do we need to change as we
complete the year?” The review was conducted in an open,
free and transparent atmosphere.
breakthrough in protecting crops from pests (Plant science)
and UK scientists make a significant breakthrough in
protecting maize crops from the spotted stemborer (Chilo
partellus) August 11, 2011
fodder species being developed to replace Napier grass
and dissemination of the Push Pull technology (ADOPT)
have invested millions to fight striga weed, Standard
newspaper June 2, 2011
natural method to tame striga weed, Standard newspaper
April 13, 2011
ADOPT: EU-funded project to climate change, 29th-30th
Zeyaur Khan, an expert at the World Food Prize, 2010
Global Youth Institute
Zeyaur Khan, wins Nan Yao Su Award for Innovation and
Creativity in Entomology
Prof.Zeyaur Khan, elected Fellow of Entomological
Society of America
Prof.Zeyaur Khan, selected the winner
of International Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Achievement
Prof.Zeyaur Khan, plenary speaker during
the XXIII International Congress of Entomology,2008
Action Network North America - Push-Pull Technology
Transforms Small Farms in Kenya
Billion needed for Science ’Grand Challenge’ to help
feed the World
icipe Scientists take Striga
Fight to Uganda