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26-31 August 2018 in Engelberg, Switzerland
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A Brief History of the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Integrated Pest Management at Virginia Tech
The Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Integrated Pest Management (IPM IL) has a long and prosperous history. In 1990, USAID requested for the National Research Council to conduct a series of studies on the value of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) in developing countries. The publication of those studies set the wheels in motion for Virginia Tech to be the home of what is now the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Integrated Pest Management. In 1993, beginning as the Integrated Pest Management Collaborative Research Support Program (IPM CRSP), Virginia Tech was generously granted funding by USAID to address health, environment, and economic issues in developing countries through Integrated Pest Management technologies.
To eliminate plant diseases and crop-destroying pests, and to feed the world’s exceeding population while tackling the devastating impact often inflicted by modern agricultural practices, the Innovation Lab implements and continues to develop an assemblage of techniques including but not limited to biological control, biological and environmental monitoring, predictive monitoring, insect mating disruption, host plant resistance, grafting, bio-rational pesticides, soil amendments, and habitat management.
From the first phase in 1993 to the now fifth phase of the Innovation Lab’s archive of work, countless farmers and institutions across the globe have significantly advanced due to the Innovation Lab’s ingenuity. Beyond initiating IPM technologies in nearly thirty countries over a quarter of a century, the value and spread of the education the Innovation Lab contributes to conferences and trainings across the world is immeasurable. Current Director and entomologist Muni Muniappan, too, has been on the heels of discovery of invasive species and crop loss in numerous countries since his induction in 2006, such as his identification and containment of the papaya mealybug in 2008, and the more recent one-of-a-kind modeling generated to monitor the invasion of the tomato leafminer Tuta absoluta, a technology that could help millions across the globe prepare for potential damage to their crops. Working in countries from Albania to Guatemala, Jamaica to Tajikistan, Cambodia to Kenya, and many more, the IPM Innovation Lab’s reach is high, wide, and exponentially growing.
In 2014, USAID officially changed IPM CRSP’s name to the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Integrated Pest Management and it began its next and current phase in seven countries in Asia and East Africa.
Since its inception, the Innovation Lab has won numerous awards for its global impact. In 2009, USAID granted the Innovation Lab an International Excellence Award, while in 2014, the program was granted Scientific Excellence from the Board for International Food and Agricultural Development (BIFAD), and in 2015, the Innovation Lab was granted the International Plant Protection Award of Distinction, among others. As graduate students, partners, and universities from multiple disciplines go on to make formative breakthroughs for this generation of science, in part because of collaboration with IPM IL, the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Integrated Pest Management continues to invest and make advancements through a proud history of transdisciplinary approaches to agriculture.
The overall mission of the Integrated Pest Management Innovation Lab is to raise the standard of living while creating sustainable development.
The program works to develop and implement a replicable approach to IPM that will help reduce the following:
- agricultural losses due to pests
- damage to natural ecosystems including loss of biodiversity
- pollution and contamination of food and water supplies
By combining expertise from the United States, CGIAR centers, and host country institutions, the goals of the IPM Innovation Lab are to:
- measurably reduce crop losses due to pests
- increase farmer income
- reduce chemical pesticide use
- reduce residues on export crops
- improve IPM research, extension, and education program capabilities
- improve ability to monitor pests
- increase the ability of women in IPM decision-making and program design
By reaching these goals, the IPM Innovation Lab directly contributes to the strategic objectives of USAID and its partners to advance land resource management practices that provide long-term social, economic, and environmental benefits.
IPM Innovation Lab program objectives relate to research, communication, and education for behavioral change, institutional capacity building, policy and institutional reform, and the development of sustainable, resource-based local enterprises. Specifically, the IPM Innovation Lab pursues:
- the advancement of IPM science and the development of IPM technologies, information, and systems for sound land resource management.
- the improvement of IPM communication and education, benefiting IPM practitioners to manage knowledge and enable the widespread adaptation, adoption, and impact of ecologically-based IPM technologies, practices, and systems.
- capacity building to reform and strengthen policies and local and national institutions that influence pest management.
- developing and integrating sustainable resource-based, local enterprises into national regional and global markets.
Brief stories and projects related to IPM and the Innovation Lab:
Two biological agents are damaging the invasive weed parthenium in the Amhara Region of Ethiopia: Large tracts of farmlands and pastures in the Amhara Regional State of Ethiopia are infested by the invasive weed parthenium (Parthenium hysterophorus).
IPM Researcher, VT student Wins Major Award: On October 14, an entomology graduate student from Niger with ties to Muniappan and the Innovation Lab won the BIFAD graduate student Award for Scientific Excellence at an event held in conjunction with the World Food Prize ceremonies in Des Moines, Iowa.
Using Integrated Pest Management to Turn Beans into Bricks: Julius Riongu and his wife Janet Gatwiriare are typical farmers in a village far from the river in Kenya’s Chuka County. They have farmed together for years and figured the would remain at a subsistence level like their neighbors and families.
IPM Practices for Healthy Crops and Healthy Families: Ms. Harriett Muthoni joined the Nthambo farmers group after farming for at least 10 years. In her previous farming experience, she grew a mix of maize and vegetables for market and to feed her family.
Kenyan Farmer Takes Captures Market for Healthy Vegetable Seedlings: After graduation from Jomo Kenyatta University, Eston Mbuba got a job in Kenya’s crowded capital of Nairobi. He soon found his housing, food, transportation, and other living expenses too high, and his income too, with little hope this would change anytime soon.
University Innovations Cross Borders to Deliver Impact: Bangladesh and Nepal are so close they could touch, if not for the small sliver of India between them. The three countries share more than proximity: Thanks to the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Integrated Pest Management, they also share technologies and research that help them grow better food and increase agricultural productivity.
Berks woman back after 2-month study in Nepal: IPM Innovation Lab graduate student Kaitlyn Spangler talks to her hometown news station about her gender research in Nepal, what she’s learned, and what she hopes to achieve.
IPM Innovation Lab scientists rally international coalition to stop a pestilent ‘army’: The fall armyworm – devastating to corn in Ethiopia, Tanzania, Kenya, and elsewhere – is subject of an emergency workshop July 14 through 16 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to slow the pest’s advance in Africa and prevent its penetration into Southern Europe and Asia. A pest native to both North and South America, the fall armyworm first landed in western Africa and reached eastern Africa a year later. The pest has the potential to destroy more than $3 billion in corn throughout Africa and trigger food shortages next year, scientists say.
IPM IL contributes to books on rice: The IPM Innovation Lab’s Asia Program Manager, E.A. “Short” Heinrichs, contributed chapters to two books on rice cultivation. The volumes Achieving sustainable cultivation of rice Vols. 1 & 2 draws on an international range of expertise to focus on ways of improving the cultivation of rice at each step in the value chain, from breeding to post-harvest storage.