Submitted to: Food Security Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/9/2010
Publication Date: 11/17/2010
Citation: Olanya, O.M., Hakiza, J.J., Nelson, R.J., El-Bedewy, R., Namanda, S., Kakuhenzire, R., Wagoire, W.W., Imelda, K., Ngombe, B., Musoke, C., Ewell, P.T. 2010. Comparative assessment of pest management practices in potato production at farmer field schools. Food Security Journal. 2:327-341. Interpretive Summary: “Farmer field schools” (FFS) can be valuable tools for directly transferring technology to farmers. We evaluated the usefulness of FFS for improving pest management and agronomic practices in potato production from 1999-2002. To do this, we compared integrated pest management (IPM) practices among farmers participating in field schools with a control group of non-participants. Although production constraints and cultivar preferences were similar between the two groups, differences in pest management, agronomic practices, and the rationale for using those practices were found. This study showed that empowering farmers with knowledge, access to pest and agronomic management options, and participatory experiments can greatly improve potato production and food security in resource constrained potato production systems.
Technical Abstract: Farmer field schools (FFS) and other participatory approaches are useful methods for rapid delivery of agricultural technologies in resource-constrained agro-ecosystems. Cultivar selection, weekly fungicide applications and integrated disease management (IDM) based on a disease monitoring strategy were evaluated at FFS for late blight control. Farmers’ knowledge and perceptions of pest management and agronomic practices were also assessed for FFS participants and non-participants from 1999-2002. Late blight development and tuber yield varied among field schools, but cultivars had significant effects on late blight severity and yield over a range of disease management options relative to the untreated check. FFS participants and non-participants used diverse sources of pest management information, but differed significantly in their management methods and practices. Cultivar resistance and fungicides were ranked as major components of pest control by 18-85% and 7-30% of FFS participants and non-participants, respectively. Differences in knowledge of cropping practices and pest biology, causal agents, disease symptoms, factors favoring disease development, and cultural management of insects and storage pests were recorded. Participatory field experiments, access to resistant cultivars, disease management and use of various agronomic practices can greatly improve pest control and potato production at FFS.