Professor Zeyaur Khan, the inventor of the Push-Pull technology, visited Biovision Foundation in Zurich and explained the current challenges to the method that is increasing yields of farmers substantially.
Khan, working for the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe), developed the Push-Pull technology in the late 1990s (Push-Pull Video). Since then, there have been challenges that had to be addressed with intensive research. Climate change, which is far more acute in sub-Sahara Africa, required the change to more drought resistant Desmodium. Bracchiaria also proved more resilient than the Napier grass that was initially planted around the fields.
The current challenges include the stunting of Napier grass and the Fall Army Worm, which devastates crops in 20 African countries (see video statement by Khan).
The first problem was solved in close cooperation with farmers by identifying varieties that are resistant. The Fall Army Worm surprisingly hardly affects Push-Pull fields. But the scientists want to find out why this is the case.
Challenges will continue to pop up, but Khan and his team are continuously working on solutions to those problems. With the recent extension of the Push-Pull programme to Malawi and Zambia, the local adaptation might also need further research.