icipe Push-Pull in Rwanda

In December 2017, the highly innovative Push-Pull technology was officially launched in Rwanda. As of May 2018, 4745 farmers have been trained, and close to 240 farmers have adopted the technology. Below is a chronology of events regarding the dissemination of Push-Pull in Rwanda.

2015: The idea of extending Push-Pull to Rwanda originated from a chance conversation in 2015 between the then country’s Minister of Agriculture and Prof. Zeyaur Khan, icipe Push-Pull Leader, who both agreed that the technology would be ideal in a country that was at the time seeking to increase its grain production.

Early 2017: Dr Patrick Karangwa, Head, Research Department, Rwanda Agriculture Board contacted Prof. Khan and his team to advance discussions on Push-Pull, especially in view of serious problems in the management of stemborers.  In response, the Centre extended an invitation to RAB, to conduct a familiarisation visit to understand the scientific basis and practical application of Push-Pull, as well as opportunities for embedding the technology into the country’s agricultural systems.

September 2017: In April 2017, Rwanda suffered a fall armyworm invasion so intense and devastating that the Rwanda Defence Force had to be incorporated into managing the menace. This scenario created a new urgency for solutions to grain and cereal production in Rwanda. Importantly, early indications in countries where the technology was in use, showed that the Push-Pull technology was effective in combating the fall armyworm. In September 2017, a RAB mission travelled to Kenya and toured Push-Pull sites, on-station at the icipe Thomas Odhiambo Campus, Mbita, and on farmers’ fields in western Kenya where the technology has been in practice over the past decade.

October 2017: A scoping mission was organised by icipe and RAB in Kigali, Rwanda. Other partners, as recommended by RAB supported by direct expressions of interest to icipe, included two non governmental organisations: Food for the Hungry, and Send a Cow, Rwanda. In summary, the roundtable discussions included:

  • Mapping geographical extent of the constraints to be addressed in Rwanda through the Push-Pull technology, that is, fall armyworm, Striga, stemborers and fodder.
  • Assessing practical applicability of Push-Pull in these regions.
  • Understanding of local farming systems, as well as implications and opportunities for embedding Push-Pull.
  • Knowledge on existing, complementary government programmes.
  • Comprehension of seed systems in Rwanda, in regard to production of Desmodium, one the major Push-Pull intercrops.
  • Defining partners, in terms of geographical scope and resources, and deliberations on potential collaborators needed for effective Push-Pull scale-out.
  • Planning specific roll-out activities

The major outcomes of the discussions were: determining of entry points for the Push-Pull technology in Rwanda was agreement with RAB as the main partner, with the mandate of coordinating other collaborators; and identification of a local Desmodium seed producer, Mr Alexis Rutekereza.

November 2017: icipe conducted a training of trainers (ToT) session, involving 15 RAB research scientist and  field technicians, focussing on i practical demonstrations on planting and management of Push-Pull plots. The Centre purchased 200 kilogrammes of Desmodium from Mr Rutekereza. As a result, RAB established the first Push-Pull validation sites in two of its stations:  in Rwerere and Rubona, in north and south Rwanda respectively. Food for the Hungry organised a ToT session, conducted by icipe, for 60 participants from Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya,Uganda, Mozambique and Rwanda. In addition, the organisation started Push-Pull demonstrations sites in Gatsibo and Nyagatare, Eastern Province, Rwanda, partnership with 47 lead farmers, who were each mandated to train 10 other farmers.

December 2017: Push-Pull was officially launched in Rwanda.

December 2017: icipe conducted a ToT session for farmers and trainers.

 icipe and partners conducted a monitoring exercise, collecting data on the reduction of stemborers, Striga and fall armyworm, as well as the impact of the technology on yield. Preliminary findings, with Push-Pull barely established, indicated slight differences, in terms of infestation levels and yield, between plots under the technology and control sites.

February 2018: Planning activities  and  another training were conducted for the second season of Push-Pull, and establishment of additional demonstration sites; 18 under RAB  involving  18 farmers; and 156  lead farmers under Food for the Hungry, totalling to 221  farmers adopting the technology. Simultaneously, trainings have been going on, with 15 ToTs trained by RAB; and 56 peer farmers from Rwanda, trained by Food for the Hungry, leading to 4745 farmers trained.  In addition, a sizeable group of farmers have expanded  Push-Pull plots, of their own accord, outside the trials.

May 2018: Although  the presence of Striga in Rwanda has always been known,  there has been lack of adequate knowledge of its impact and geographic distribution. The icipe Geoinformation systems (GIS) has modelled Striga occurrence in Rwanda, reporting a heavy presence of two species of the weed;  Striga asiatica and striga hermothica in eastern Rwanda, the country’s main cereal growing zone. The study also reveals scattered incidents of Striga in the south and predicts possible occurrence in the west of the country.

Ongoing: icipe intends to continue trainings, partnerships building, and commence policy related discussions that will make Push-Pull accessible to more farmers in Rwanda. In particular, the Centre will address growing interest from different stakeholders in Rwanda for involvement in commercial Desmodium seed production. Deliberations are in progress among icipe, private sector representatives and licensed seed farmers for a structured process.

Donor acknowledgment

The dissemination of Push-Pull in Rwanda is supported by the Push-Pull sub-Saharan Africa project, funded by Biovision Foundation for Ecological Development, Switzerland. Overall, the icipe Push-Pull integrated pest management programme is supported by: the European Union; Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, UK through Rothamsted Research, UK; and Biovision Foundation for Ecological Development, Switzerland. icipe gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the following core donors: Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC); Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida); UK Aid, from the government of the United Kingdom; the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology, Kenya; and the Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. The views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of these donors.