Food and nutritional security needs of sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) depends largely on crops and livestock productivity by smallholders and they contribute 80-90% of the agricultural production.  Key biotic constraints to increasing productivity across the various agro-ecological zones are insects, related arthropods, and arthropod transmitted diseases. These risks are compounded by the increased frequency of invasive pest and disease outbreaks in SSA. To manage these problems, majority of the smallholders either rely heavily on calendar sprays of synthetic pesticides or do nothing thereby impacting negatively on food and nutritional security, human and environmental health. To minimize these adverse effects, icipe advocates the use of biopesticides within the context of integrated pest management (IPM).

One of the key pillars of icipe’s R4D portfolio is development and promotion of biopesticides for management of arthropod pest of crops and livestock through public-private sector partnerships. This has resulted in several Metarhizium anisopliae-based biopesticide products commercialized as follows: Mazao Campaign® (Metarhizium anisopliae ICIPE 69 for use against thrips, fruit flies, mealybugs), Mazao Achieve® (Metarhizium anisopliae ICIPE 78 for spider mite control), Mazao Supreme® (Metarhizium anisopliae ICIPE 62 for aphid control) and Mazao TickOff® (Metarhizium anisopliae ICIPE 7 for tick control). In 2019 alone Mazao Campaign®, Mazao Achieve® and Mazao Supreme® were applied on >132,994 ha in Africa, by >37,600 farmers benefitting 225,600 households. Several other proven isolates including endophytes for inducing systemic resistance in plants are in the pipeline for registration against Fall armyworm, Tuta absoluta, leafminers, termites, stable flies and tsetse flies.

Biopesticides use is especially suited for horticulture due to the zero pre-harvest intervals (PHI) requirements. This is also true for livestock where similar requirements are needed for fresh milk. Up scaling of biopesticides use in agriculture should minimize over dependence on chemical pesticides with positive impacts on the environment and human health, market access due to issues of maximum residues, value addition and harnessing of ecosystem services such as pollination and biological control. Strengthening biopesticide production and application in the region also holds great potential for employment generation for women and youth.

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