Exploring botanical pesticides on field grown maize in Nigeria

Africa accounts for almost 6.5% of the global maize production, and in Nigeria, the largest producer of maize in Africa, it has a market value of USD 8 million. In Nigeria, maize production dropped from 10.5 million tonnes to 10.4 million tonnes between 2015 and 2016 (source: FAOSTAT). That was highly attributed to the high infestation of insect pests on field grown maize; though there were other yield constraining factors such as inefficient production technology, low capital outlay and inefficient resource utilization.

Pest control in Africa has mostly depended on the use of synthetic pesticides. Therefore, fears concerning the effect of synthetic pesticides on human health, increased pest resistance and negative environmental impact of these chemicals have led to the development of safer, more environmentally acceptable and cost effective control alternatives, especially the use of plants products. There is a good potential of using botanical pesticides on field grown maize because they’re broad spectrum are readily available, safer and affordable to resource poor farmers.

During my postgraduate studies between 2016/2017 at the University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria, I carried out a research on the insecticidal potentials of leaf extract of some indigenous plants in the management of insect pest of field grown maize (Zea mays L.), Akwa Ibom state, Nigeria. The plants used were Neem (Azadiracta indica), Moringa (Moringa oleifera), scent leaf (Ocimum grattissimum), the extracts were separately applied at different rates, with the synthetic pesticide used as a control for comparison.

Results had it that the anti-feedants properties contained in the different leaf extracts showed that maize pests do not develop resistance to the organic pesticides applied. Although there were various results gathered from the experiment. The different rates of the application had different outcomes, but there were distinctive difference with the plants treated with synthetic pesticide due to the development of resistance by some pest to the synthetic pesticide.

In the course of the research, some challenges were encountered, and I intend to bring them up at the IUPAC 2019 Next Generation Agri-Summit. The challenges include:

  1. Genetic variability of some plant species in different localities.
  2. Difficulty of registration and patenting of natural products and lack of standardization of botanical pesticide products.
  3. Economic uncertainties occasioned by seasonal supply of seeds, perennial nature of most botanical trees, and change in potency with location and time with respect to geographical limitations.
  4. Instability of the active ingredients when exposed to direct sunlight
  5. Competition with synthetic pesticides through aggressive advertising by commercial pesticides dealers and commercial-formulated botanicals are more expensive than synthetic insecticide and are not as widely available.
  6. Data on the effectiveness and long-term (chronic) mammalian toxicity are unavailable for some botanicals, and tolerance for some have not been established.

I’m applying to join the IUPAC 2019 Agri Summit in Ghent because I want to further this research in other parts of Nigeria due to the different agro-ecological zones which have brought about different incidence of insect pests on field grown maize all year round especially during the dry season farming. This seminar will give me the opportunity to interact with other researchers, ask questions and make inputs in charting the way forward towards integrated pest management to ensure optimum maize production in Africa, especially Nigeria and the world at large.

Paulinus Ibanga, Nigeria

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