Environment-friendly pest management

Organic farming does not require synthetic pesticides. There are several ways to control pests.
A malaise trap set up by SFHC in Malawi. SFHC A malaise trap set up by SFHC in Malawi.

One option for reducing insects on a field is to set up a Malaise trap. It consists of nets which are set up in a tent-like structure. Insects that fly into the trap are guided – by light, for example – into an alcohol-filled pot, where they die. The method was invented by the Swedish scholar René Malaise in the early 20th century. In Malawi, the ­civil-society organisation Soil, Food and Healthy Community (SFHC) is teaching farmers how to apply this method. It is not simple, because the effectiveness depends on setting up the trap in the right place and in the appropriate manner. The great advantage is that these traps have no impact beyond the field concerned.

With support from Norwegian and Canadian experts, moreover, SFHC has been training Malawian farmers to make their own organic pesticides. These pesticides are not as poisonous as high-tech chemicals, and they can be applied in a targeted manner. A big advantage is that they decompose naturally, whereas synthetic pesticides typically have persistent components that do long-term harm to the environment. A related benefit is that food produced with organic pesticides is normally not contaminated with toxic particles.

In a global perspective, moreover, it is important to reduce the use of synthetic pesticides. That is a demand of prudent chemicals management (see Hans-Christian Stolzenberg in the Focus section of D+C/E+Z e-Paper 2021/03). Further intensification of the world economy would lead to disaster.

Accordingly, SFHC also promotes using local manure and crop residues to fertilise fields rather than using industrially-produced fertilisers. Both organic approaches – regarding pest control and fertilisation – help to protect the local ecosystem and, at the same time, boost yields.

Rabson Kondowe is a journalist based in Blantyre, Malawi. He is interested in social development, health and business related stories.

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