Advancing nematodes research and management

icipe and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), have jointly identified a range of strategic factors to be addressed and, accordingly, initiated a variety of initiatives, to resolve the growing threat of plant parasitic nematodes in sub Saharan Africa (SSA).

Plant parasitic nematodes, microscopic soil dwelling worms, are among the most widespread and economically important crop pests globally. These pests infect plant roots causing direct yield loss by preventing adequate water and nutrient uptake by the plant. In addition, nematodes inflict indirect damage to plants due to secondary fungal or bacterial infections transmitted through wounds that arise after the pests feed on plant roots.

In SSA, although there are no reliable estimates, the impact of nematodes is certainly significant. While a complex community of nematode species affect crop production in SSA, emerging threats, such as the invasive potato cyst nematode (reported in East Africa for the first time in 2014), climate change and intensive cropping systems, are expected to increase the nematode problem across the region.

In addition to strategic research efforts being undertaken, the nematode management components highlighted by icipe and IITA include: postgraduate level training of nematologists; support for African academic institutions to effectively mainstream nematology as a discipline; enhancing capacity of farmers, national extension services and relevant government agencies; knowledge dissemination to researchers in cross cutting disciplines and institutions, and to other stakeholders, such as donors.

In accordance, icipe and IITA have, through their inter-institutionally combined Nematology Team, implemented various joint activities to understanding and dealing with nematode threats. Over the past six months a determined effort, involving additional partners, has been initiated. For more information visit: