Tsetse repellent technology

icipe, with funding from European Union, has developed a  tsetse repellent technology that  expands the arsenal of techniques for trypanosomosis control and reduces the use of trypanocides.

Furthermore, the exquisiteness of this technology is that it can be integrated with other tsetse control tactics for enhanced fly suppression and significantly reduced disease incidence (protection & control).

This new technology involves controlled–release of potent repellents from a prototype dispenser (specifically designed to facilitate release of the repellents at a constant rate) that individual cattle wear encircling their necks. Repellents for the control/management of tsetse have been identified at icipe from synthetic sources and from natural blends of un-preferred animals (e.g. waterbuck), which are common in tsetse habitats but not fed upon. The synthetic tsetse repellent 2-methoxy-4-methylphenol (icipe patent) and the 5-constituent waterbuck repellent blend (pending icipe patent application) have been validated in proof-of-concept large-scale field trials with funding from the EU in the coastal areas of Kenya (adjacent to the Shimba Hills Game Reserve).

Our results demonstrate that the waterbuck repellents are better than the synthetic repellent and they provide substantial protection to cattle, and farmers’ perceptions of the technology are highly positive.

Impacts of the repellent technology include: a reduction in disease incidence of >85%; drug use being significantly reduced and  farmers being able to graze their animals anywhere including in tsetse infested areas, and in the early morning and evening hours when tsetse flies are the most active. In addition, body weights of the protected animals have increased significantly resulting in higher selling prices and more traction power which has brought more land under cultivation thus improving the food security of the livestock farmers (protected bulls are ploughing 2-3x more land daily and the land under cultivation has increased by nearly 2 acres per household with protected animals). Protected animals are being sold at 2-3x the price. Livestock keepers are happy with the technology because it is simple, mobile, and consistent with their nomadic life-style. Many farmers who initially did not participate are now demanding to be included in the trials. These promising results have been achieved despite the prototype nature of the technology (only about 70-80% dispensers worked during the field trials).

The tsetse repellent technology is now being scaled-up production of the technology in partnership with industry / entrepreneurs through public-private-partnerships.