In Africa, agriculture is the most important sector, which, according to World Bank (2015) data, employs 65 per cent of the continent’s labour force and accounts for 32 per cent of its gross domestic product. Although Africa’s agricultural performance has improved since 2000, growth is still slow, largely constrained by pests, parasitic weeds and poor soils, and decreasing land holdings.

The aim of the icipe plant health theme is to contribute towards improving agricultural production in Africa, with the overall goal of contributing to food security, human and environmental health, and to household and national economies.

icipe endeavours to achieve these objectives through the development of integrated pest management (IPM) options for pre- and post-harvest pests, and for parasitic weeds (such as Striga) in staple food crops (cereals and grain legumes); horticultural crops (vegetable and fruit) and commercial crops (coffee, cotton, cashew, sugarcane and cocoa). icipe’s IPM strategies and technologies eschew the use of the often expensive and harmful pesticides, utilising instead, biological control, biopesticides and habitat management strategies.

The Centre partners closely with farmers to ensure that the options that are developed are ideal for their needs. The dissemination of the icipe IPM packages is supported by a range of technology transfer initiatives involving collaborations with national agricultural research organisations, training of trainers, farmer training programmes, and private sector partnerships.

In addition, ex-ante and ex-post assessments of economic impact are conducted to assess the success and challenges, so as to institute necessary improvements of the strategies and technologies.