A young maize tassel is opened up to reveal stem borers hidden inside, and damage caused by their feeding, in a farmer’s field in Embu district, Kenya. Photo: CIMMYT
MEXICO CITY (CIMMYT) – A new review of a biological control (BC) program for control of stem borers implemented from 1993 to 2008, in an effort to reduce cereal yield losses due to stemborer attacks in East and Southern Africa, highlights the potential for BC programs to lift a large number of people out of poverty and create greater returns for consumers and producers.
In 1993 the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology program released four biological control agents to control the economically important stem borer pests Busseola fusca, Chilo partellus and Sesamia calamistis. Two of the natural enemies that were released were established and spread throughout the region. The researchers used an economic surplus approach, using bio-agents related data and market data from Kenya, Mozambique and Zambia, to determine the benefits of BC for producers and consumers.
More than 135,000 people were estimated to be lifted out of poverty annually due to the BC intervention, contributing an aggregate monetary surplus of $1.4 billion to the economies of the three countries, with 84 percent from maize production. The study also found that BC research and intervention is very efficient, with an internal rate of return of 67 percent – compared to the considered discount rate of 10 percent – and an estimated benefit-cost ratio of 33:1.
The authors of the study argue that these successful findings underscore the need for increased investment in BC research to sustain cereal production and improve poor living conditions.
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