Large-scale sugarcane farmers' knowledge and perceptions of Eldana saccharina Walker (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae), push–pull and integrated pest management
Van den Berg, Johnnie
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A push–pull strategy for controlling Eldana saccharina Walker is being promoted as part of an area-wide integrated pest management (AW-IPM) programme in the South African sugar industry. Understanding farmers' perceptions of pests and pest management can improve rates of adoption of pest management strategies, in particular for knowledge-intensive practices such as AW-IPM. Fifty-three large-scale sugarcane farmers were interviewed using a semi-structured questionnaire. Respondents recognised the threat which E. saccharina posed, and 83% had heard of push–pull and IPM. Ecozone delineations played a more important role in adoption decisions than demographic and general enterprise factors such as farmer age, experience and land tenure, supporting the suggestion that experiential learning activities with small, local groups of farmers are suitable for introducing new pest management strategies. Notwithstanding good basic knowledge of E. saccharina, push–pull and IPM which farmers demonstrated, there is still a need for more detailed and practical knowledge on the implementation of push–pull at farm level. This knowledge should be made available to farmers in a hands-on manner with an emphasis on locally-oriented field days and model farms. Eldana saccharina may not be a priority for all farmers in the region where surveys were conducted. However, farmers should not be allowed to become complacent about this pest, as its range is increasing. These results will be used to formulate future push–pull and AW-IPM dissemination activities amongst large-scale sugarcane farmers in South Africa.