IPM Sustainable Agriculture

Making it profitable for farmers to innovate in the fight against pests

We help farmers design and commercialise locally adapted pest solutions, so that IPM becomes profitable both to adopt and to spread.

Use Case

Worldwide, crop protection technology has brought pest damage down from a potential whopping 80% global harvest loss to ("only!") 35%...a 35% which has stubbornly refused to be reduced since. And as these losses are highest where undernutrition is rampant (sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia), 35% represents a huge opportunity.Integrated pest management (IPM) is the intelligent (integrated!) use of all pest control options available and has huge potential to reduce crop losses. But the high knowledge requirements to make it work make it difficult to adopt. We will help farmers adopt IPM by organising them in cooperatives to design, test and commercialise locally-appropriate crop-saving technology and integrated control practices to protect their crops.

Potential

The prevailing thought is that if a technology is favourable to farmers, they will adopt it. We agree, but add on a second caveat: only if spreading that technology is favourable to farmers will they also spread it. Many NGOs have helped villages start integrated pest management programmes. It works, but stops at that village. And there are millions of villages worldwide, with only three of us! But...there are also billions of farmers. Imagine if farmers had profit to make not only from adopting good practices, but from improving and spreading them. If solving hunger was not about teaching farmers how to farm, but about getting them involved in designing solutions. If we could get that remaining 35% of our pests' mouths and into those of people.

Business Case

Our project has three phases: 1) Testing, 2) Commercialisation, and 3) Replication (in new regions).In step 1, we will work with communities to develop problems, solutions, and products. The communities test the products in their own fields (generating yield and expense-saving benefits for them).In step 2, the cooperatives establish markets and business relationships with other nearby communities, and we will train village cooperative members in marketing and product diffusion. As cooperatives begin making profits off their sales, the revenue will allow them to grow and spread locally. We will also buy products from these cooperatives and resell them as part of our larger distribution network, which will allow us to maintain and spread the project to new geographic locations in step 3.

Objectives:

  1. Work with farming communities to help them map out and understand the complexities of integrated pest management.
  2. Help communities develop repeatable and commercialisable locally appropriate control strategies and technologies based on local knowledge.
  3. Organise farming communities into village cooperatives for the production and sale of the technologies and strategies they have developed.

Team IPM Sustainable Agriculture

Montreal, Canada

  • Science / Engineering
  • Agricultural Production / Productivity
  • Asia

Our Team

Concept video / Published December 8, 2014 by Julien Malard

Concept video

http://youtu.be/bgLDAkqea9k

Poster award! / Published December 6, 2014 by Julien Malard

Poster award!

http://www.mcgill.ca/globalfoodsecurity/conference/2014/presentations-and-posters

Julien's poster on participatory pest management in Guatemala wins the First Prize Poster award at McGill University's annual Global Food Security Conference!

Lessons learned / Published December 6, 2014 by Julien Malard

Lessons learned

Encouraging things we learned from our testing phase (Guatemala):
1. Farmers are really interested in this (Instead of meeting with 2-3 farmer leaders, as expected, they invited the entire village! Had to improvise a speech really quickly...)
2. There are so many local initiatives to control pests. The farmers were very happy to show us lots of plants and other technologies they are currently developing to control their pests! Many of the farmers there have been unable to control pests over the past seasons, and are very interested in new ideas.

Things that we thought could go wrong:
1. Farmers might think we're a waste of time. (Our first try in the field allayed that fear!)
2. Weather. The first answer to the question "What attacks your crops?" was "What crop?" (The recent drought there had destroyed 80% of the harvest.) Of course, we can't stop droughts (we wish)! But while we concentrate on farmer networks for pest management technologies, there is nothing to keep farmers from using the networks we create to spread other technologies, too (like drought-resistant plants and tricks). Also, pest management is most crucial during hard times (to save the bit that is left).

(Photo: Farmer showing me an assassin bug (natural predator) on her farm in Chiquimula, Guatemala.)

At the farmer workshop! / Published December 6, 2014 by Julien Malard

At the farmer workshop!

During our participatory pest assessment workshop with the farming community of Chiquimula, Guatemala.

Field visit in Guatemala / Published December 6, 2014 by Julien Malard

Field visit in Guatemala

Aphids on a farmer's beans. These, they told me, are actually quite resistant to current control efforts.

Our Mission

Our mission is to improve the livelihoods and food security of smallholder farmers by providing them with the tools and markets they need to transform their traditional knowledge into sustainable solutions to crop losses.

Our Background

We are a team of three diverse and enthusiastic students from McGill University. Simerjeet Kaur is a PhD student in Plant Science, with research centered on biofuels and plant resistance to diseases and previous experience as a research associate at the Punjab Agricultural University, India, developing resistant cereal crop varieties. Julien Malard, a PhD student in Bioresource Engineering, has farmer field trial and rural community research experience in Guatemala and India, including using community participatory methods to understand, model, and develop sustainable solutions to communities’ farming challenges. And Nnedimma Nnebe is a MSc student in Bioresource Engineering, working on cassava processing and high quality flour production to improve food security in Nigeria. Why are we here? In a terrible twist of irony, small-scale farmers, though closest to food, are often the most food insecure of all. When we learned that, despite the widespread use of control efforts, crop pests (weeds, insects, diseases) lead to food losses estimated on the order of 25-40% of potential harvests each year, we saw a huge problem...but also a huge opportunity. With the threat of climate change and new pests moving to new places, we think that one of the best solutions is to source–and especially share–traditional knowledge concerning pest management so that farmers can address current and future problems as they arise. We believe that the bottleneck in this situation is a lack of widespread, transferable knowledge on how to manage agroecosystems, which can be deviously tricky and complex. (For example, in one case, adding a new pest to an agricultural system decreased crop losses because an existing predator fared much better and reproduced more efficiency on a more diverse diet!). With this in mind, we want to unleash the potential of communities’ experiences through new participatory methods that tap into traditional knowledge to lead farming communities in the participatory design of sustainable integrated pest management (IPM) interventions for their communities. We will believe that, with help, farmers can use this new knowledge to develop small-scale enterprises for pest control technologies, which will supplement their higher production with a second source of increased revenue. Being from Punjab and having studied at the Punjab Agricultural University, Simer brings important experience and contacts from Punjab (Punjab Agricultural University and local farmers) for the implementation of this project. Simer belongs to a farming family in Punjab and want to contributes towards the food security issues she has experienced very closely among poorer farmers. Nnedimma brings experience in rural food security, as well as in agroindustrial processing and production, to the team. As for Julien, he aims, through this project, to apply the methodologies he developed in his research to offer concrete solutions for the communities that most need it.

Concept video / Published December 8, 2014 by Julien Malard

Concept video

http://youtu.be/bgLDAkqea9k

Poster award! / Published December 6, 2014 by Julien Malard

Poster award!

http://www.mcgill.ca/globalfoodsecurity/conference/2014/presentations-and-posters

Julien's poster on participatory pest management in Guatemala wins the First Prize Poster award at McGill University's annual Global Food Security Conference!

Lessons learned / Published December 6, 2014 by Julien Malard

Lessons learned

Encouraging things we learned from our testing phase (Guatemala):
1. Farmers are really interested in this (Instead of meeting with 2-3 farmer leaders, as expected, they invited the entire village! Had to improvise a speech really quickly...)
2. There are so many local initiatives to control pests. The farmers were very happy to show us lots of plants and other technologies they are currently developing to control their pests! Many of the farmers there have been unable to control pests over the past seasons, and are very interested in new ideas.

Things that we thought could go wrong:
1. Farmers might think we're a waste of time. (Our first try in the field allayed that fear!)
2. Weather. The first answer to the question "What attacks your crops?" was "What crop?" (The recent drought there had destroyed 80% of the harvest.) Of course, we can't stop droughts (we wish)! But while we concentrate on farmer networks for pest management technologies, there is nothing to keep farmers from using the networks we create to spread other technologies, too (like drought-resistant plants and tricks). Also, pest management is most crucial during hard times (to save the bit that is left).

(Photo: Farmer showing me an assassin bug (natural predator) on her farm in Chiquimula, Guatemala.)

At the farmer workshop! / Published December 6, 2014 by Julien Malard

At the farmer workshop!

During our participatory pest assessment workshop with the farming community of Chiquimula, Guatemala.

Field visit in Guatemala / Published December 6, 2014 by Julien Malard

Field visit in Guatemala

Aphids on a farmer's beans. These, they told me, are actually quite resistant to current control efforts.

Our Team

Our Mission

Our mission is to improve the livelihoods and food security of smallholder farmers by providing them with the tools and markets they need to transform their traditional knowledge ...Read More

Our Background

We are a team of three diverse and enthusiastic students from McGill University. Simerjeet Kaur is a PhD student in Plant Science, with research centered on biofuels and ...Read More

The information contained here represents student project ideas developed as the result of brainstorming activities during Round 1 of the TFF Challenge. It does not represent any final business plans or commercial products.