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Caught off guard: folk knowledge proves deficient when addressing invasive pests in Asian cassava systems

Author

Listed:
  • Bhawana Upadhyay

    (International Potato Center CIP)

  • Dharani D. Burra

    (International Center for Tropical Agriculture CIAT)

  • Than Thi Nguyen

    (International Center for Tropical Agriculture CIAT)

  • Kris A. G. Wyckhuys

    (International Center for Tropical Agriculture CIAT
    International Joint Research Laboratory on Ecological Pest Management
    University of Queensland
    Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences)

Abstract

Farmers’ knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs are of paramount importance in shaping the on-farm adoption and diffusion of integrated pest management (IPM). In particular, for invasive pests, this (gendered) knowledge base can dictate how fast and effective farmers respond to emerging threats. In this study, we employ qualitative and quantitative methods to assess agro-ecological knowledge and pest management behavior of small-scale cassava growers in rural Vietnam and Laos, when faced with two new biotic threats, i.e., the invasive cassava mealybug Phenacoccus manihoti and cassava witches broom disease. Despite their pronounced impact on crop yields, farmers overall had limited knowledge of recent invaders and regularly ascribed their appearance to “climate change". Growers were largely unaware of preventative tactics for pest control, and resorted to curative measures (e.g., unguided pesticide sprays) at the P. manihoti invasion front. Farmers’ attitudes toward invasive pests were highly context- and locality-dependent, and knowledge scores differed between households positioned along a gender continuum. Though women assumed a minor role in IPM decision-making and possessed comparatively deficient knowledge, they favored agro-ecological approaches and took on key tasks in the selection of propagation material. Gender roles in cassava crop protection are equally context-dependent, yet women may be well-positioned to promote IPM practices such as the use of disease-free planting material. Future extension should thus pay attention to (a) strengthening (women) farmers’ knowledge base, to empower them as change agents and drive IPM adoption, and (b) transferring local innovations between sites, eventually through visual educational aids. Given the increasing importance of invasive pests in many developing countries, our work emphasizes how adult education and (adaptive) co-learning should become core components of mitigation programs.

Suggested Citation

  • Bhawana Upadhyay & Dharani D. Burra & Than Thi Nguyen & Kris A. G. Wyckhuys, 2020. "Caught off guard: folk knowledge proves deficient when addressing invasive pests in Asian cassava systems," Environment, Development and Sustainability: A Multidisciplinary Approach to the Theory and Practice of Sustainable Development, Springer, vol. 22(1), pages 425-445, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:endesu:v:22:y:2020:i:1:d:10.1007_s10668-018-0208-x
    DOI: 10.1007/s10668-018-0208-x
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Kris Wyckhuys & Robert O’Neil, 2007. "Local agro-ecological knowledge and its relationship to farmers’ pest management decision making in rural Honduras," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 24(3), pages 307-321, September.
    2. Lisa Price, 2001. "Demystifying farmers' entomological and pest management knowledge: A methodology for assessing the impacts on knowledge from IPM-FFS and NES interventions," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 18(2), pages 153-176, June.
    3. Chen, Ruijian & Huang, Jikun & Qiao, Fangbin, 2013. "Farmers' knowledge on pest management and pesticide use in Bt cotton production in china," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 27(C), pages 15-24.
    4. Kris Wyckhuys & Robert O’Neil, 2010. "Social and ecological facets of pest management in Honduran subsistence agriculture: implications for IPM extension and natural resource management," Environment, Development and Sustainability: A Multidisciplinary Approach to the Theory and Practice of Sustainable Development, Springer, vol. 12(3), pages 297-311, June.
    5. Jeffery Bentley, 1989. "What farmers don't know can't help them: The strengths and weaknesses of indigenous technical knowledge in Honduras," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 6(3), pages 25-31, June.
    6. Stephen Sherwood, 1997. "Little things mean a lot: Working with Central American farmers to address the mystery of plant disease," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 14(2), pages 181-189, June.
    7. Astrid Gurung, 2003. "Insects – a mistake in God's creation? Tharu farmers' perception and knowledge of insects: A case study of Gobardiha Village Development Committee, Dang-Deukhuri, Nepal," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 20(4), pages 337-370, December.
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