Save the maize: Mass rearing of enthomopathogenic nematodes (EPNs) as a biological control of stem borer disease of maize

Maize (Zea mays L (Poaceae)  is one of the most important cereal crops cultivated for food and feed and industrial raw material. The demand for it is huge both locally and internationally.

Maize production in Nigeria is greatly threaten by a number of stressors including insect pests such as stem borers (Busseola fusca, Sesamia calamistis, Eldana saccharina, Coniesta ignefusalis, and Chilo partellus  (Simon et al, 2015)).  Stem borers can cause up to 10-100% loss in maize yield (Sosan and Daramola, 2001). Insecticide used today has the problem of resistance and a negative effect on non-targeted organisms including people and environment. There is a need for more environmentally friendly pest control methods.

Entomopathogenic nematodes when infested into the insect pests of maize, are capable of  killing the insects. A number of authors in Nigeria reported members of Nematode in families  Heterorhabditidae and Steinernematidae as potential EPNs. The use of EPNs to control stem borer pest in maize in Nigeria is the main thrust of my project.

The project will be in four phases. The first phase will be to identify what ENPs are appropriate for the insect pests causing stem borer in maize.

The second will attempt to culture EPNS in commercial quantity for field trials in the laboratory.

The third phase will be to test the EPNs in the field. This is to determine their efficiency, best method of application, and quantity to apply.

Phase four is design to train  farmers and stakeholder on how to use EPNs and the importance of using it to control stem borers in maize.

The first two phases of the project is to be carried in the Nematology  laboratory , department of Crop protection, University of Ibadan. Experts in  Nematology such as Dr Cladius-Cole will serve as guardian in setting up the project. I will accommodate as many interested PhD  and master students from the department to partake in the project if they show interest.  The agricultural development project of different ministry Agriculture from the selected states will suggest farmers willing to participate in the training.

The outcome of this project is enormous because prior to this proposed project, proper identification of the EPNs best suited to specific insect pests causing stem borer disease has not been done in Nigeria.  Direct application of EPNs on field has also not been done in Nigeria.  If this project is implemented, the impact will be in terms of knowledge gained, commercially available EPNs for sale that will improve yield and in the long run improve the livelihood of the farmers.  If the project is successful it will throw more insight on pest control in Nigeria because more trials will be done on more crops.  This means more laboratories will be producing the EPNs, therefore creating job opportunities and income generation. In addition, successful  field trials will mean more food and yield for the farmers thereby helping to improve poverty and hunger in the country.

I am a 29 years old Nigerian, I  earned a masters degree in Parasitology from university of Ilorin, Nigeria in 2017. Upon completion, my passion for parasites of plant and interest in insect and nematode parasites affecting plants has grown. Searching through literature I found something in entomopathogenic Nematodes. Because of this, I made up my mind to go for PhD in crop protection and environmental biology, at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria where am currently enrolled. My proposal for the study is coined around the potential of EPNs as biological control of pest in Nigeria. Doing this project will give me fulfillment to be  part of something new and of high impact.  Through this project the community will be impacted  through the knowledge shared in the training to increase the impact in the society.

Samuel Ibitoye, Nigeria

13 comments

  1. I am certain this project will bring a new dawn and success to maize production in Nigeria.. I can’t wait to see it start.

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  2. A very viable project. Am encouraged and i am optimist the research will bing about a great solution to help increase maize yield in Nigeria.

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  3. This research study will help to bring about great improvement to our country Nigeria and also to the world at large. I therefore recommende you for this study. You are doing great job, keep it up dear.

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  4. This is an interesting piece of work. It surely adds to the existing body of knowledge on crop protection and will be of value in ensuring food security.

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  5. Wow…so so beautiful write up,you deserve some accolades for this great intellectual research review.

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  6. Nice story. I just like to make a small suggestion for your project. Check also the host range of that parasite. What else it can destroy in the ecosystem. Sometimes we see a big consequence of very small initial action. Usually it is totally unexpected.

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