Gabriele Stoll
Natural Crop Protection in the Tropics
Letting Information Come to Life

This book addresses two perspectives:
A technical perspective and a validation and adaptation perspective.

The structure is built upon the situation in which a farmer finds herself/ himself when s/he encounters a pest problem in the field:
A farmer is visiting her/his field
cultivating a specific crop

S/he encounters a specific
pest problem

The farmer makes sure that
s/he recognizes these pests and

S/he is reflecting about how
to understand and solve this

Main pests of this crop

Description of the main pests of this specific crop

Explanations about the biology of this pest and proposition of preventive and curative solutions
Starting from the farm situation the farmer encounters a pest problem in a specific crop. S/he can consult Chapter 2 "Insect Pests in Field and Storage" which describes key pests for important crops. An important part of the description of the selected pests is the description of their damage pattern and biology. This is key information needed to formulate control measures – particularly the preventive and cultural measures. There is then a reference to curative control measures. If the description requires a longer text, the respective page number is indicated and the detailed description is found in Chapter 3 "Methods of Natural Pest Control in the Field" and Chapter 4 "Methods of Natural Pest Control in Storage". For both, principles of prevention are initially presented followed by curative measures.
For ease of use, the curative control methods for crops in the field and in storage are presented separately. It has been attempted to also present preventive measures such as strengthening plant health or manipulating and managing pests and their natural enemies. Measures which are based on knowledge of the behaviour of both pests and natural enemies are included, thus building a stronger bridge to the cultivation system as a whole. These measures can also contribute to reducing pest pressure, thus reducing the need to apply direct control techniques such as plant extracts.
Where information was available concerning side effects upon non-target organisms, including humans, this was included, but accessing information on toxicological side effects of natural products is not easy. This information is vital to gain an understanding of potential risks associated with natural products, but also to respond to critical debate on this issue.

Turning information into living knowledge is a complex process combining different interacting levels. We have information based on tradition or science, which is basic information, in a limited context, often restricted to certain disciplines, e.g. entomology. However, having sound entomological information is not yet a guarantee that farmers will use it. The farmers' environment is complex. Therefore, this entomological information has to be integrated and interwoven with relevant information deriving from other perspectives. The farmers' environment, even that of the smallest farmers in developing countries, changes constantly. Factors driving this change include government policies, markets and prices, cost of living, unexpected competition from imports, foreign development programmes, media, new aspirations and changing weather and climate. Because of the speed of these changes, farmers are challenged more than ever before to develop responses to these changes. It often takes too long for research and extension to develop and disseminate recommendations for farmers.
Managing information and knowledge is essential to responding adequately and in a timely manner to changes and challenges. For farmers this means learning key skills which enable them to access information, to adapt information to new circumstances and to make more out of what is available to them through intelligent management and innovation. Successful farmers today are not necessarily those who work hard, but rather those who make use of a sound knowledge of the different components of their farm, those who know how to link these components and who are able to adapt and innovate rather than following prescribed techniques or technology packages. Thus risk can be reduced and flexible solutions developed.
Chapter 5, in which case studies on approaches and methodologies of farmer participatory research and the stimulation of innovation are presented, has been included in order to contribute to enhancing these skills. Besides the case studies, a synthesis is presented of principles common to the different case studies. Understanding these common principles may contribute to the development of new approaches and methodologies adapted to specific circumstances.

Who should read this book

This book addresses everyone engaged in supporting and empowering small farmers and working in the field of developing and promoting sustainable and organic agriculture. The book focuses on small farmers in developing countries of the tropics and subtropics, but may also be useful to organic farmers.
• Extension workers (GO, NGO)
• Practitioners
• Researchers
• Development planners