Push-Pull

Expand the use of the successful ecological method of growing maize and sorghum in sub-Saharan Africa (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Senegal and Burkina Faso)

The projects

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Push-Pull is an integrated, sustainable method of farming that increases yields by controlling pests, retaining soil moisture and improving soil fertility in a natural way.

Desmodium is planted as an intercrop between the maize or millet and its smell repels the stemborer moths - Push. The ability of the soil to absorb and store moisture is improved, nitrogen is fixed and so soil fertility is improved. In addition, desmodium decimates the striga weed and so increases yields.

Napier grass is planted as a border crap and it draws the moths away from the field - Pull. The moth larvae then perish on the sticky leaves of the napier grass. Both napier grass and desmodium are also a welcome source of healthy animal fodder.

In addition to being effective against the stemborer moth and striga weed, the Push-Pull method has also proved its worth in the fight against the fall army worm (see link above).

The Push-Pull method was developed at icipe, the International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology in Nairobi. Since 2006, Biovision has been supporting projects to spread this method in Kenya. Later, the selection of countries was extended to Tanzania, Uganda and Ethiopia. Since 2016, Push-Pull has also been spread outside East Africa (Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Senegal and Burkina Faso).

The Development Goal is to increase food security and incomes by accelerating the spread of the Push-Pull method of cultivation and improving the supply chain in East Africa.

The difference is clearly visible: the maize on the left of the photo has been grown with the Push-Pull method and that on the right without it.

Relevance

Many in the rural areas of East Africa earn their livingfrom farming;the majority of these arefamilies living on a smallholding with little land.Pests, leached soils and excessivearidity are making lifedifficult for farmers who lack suitable, sustainable methods to increase their crop yields. The Push-Pull method can offer relief as itswide range of effects can increase yields up to 300%.

Beneficiaries

A total of 157‘890 small-scale farmers in the different project regions benefit from the various activities of the Push-Pull programme. In addition to increased food security, the beneficiaries also benefit from an increased income, which is usually invested in the children's school education. 

Objectives of current project phase

  • Support innovative and participative methods for the sustainable spread of the Push-Pull method and also strengthen local and regional partnerships
  • Train members of farming cooperatives in the exploitation of synergies in marketing, distribution and processing of surplus production
  • Support gender equality by introducing additional methods of distribution that are easily accessible by women and disadvantaged groups in society
  • Improve access to seeds such as desmodium, napier grass and brachiaria by strengthening local production and distribution systems
  • Improve access by small-scale farmers to markets for agricultural products
  • Establish Push-Pull demonstration fields (at least one per District in each project region) in the training centres for farmers
  • Further development of the method, e.g. by evaluating local push or pull plants

Achievements

Since the project started in 2006, some 157,890 farmers in East Africa have successfully adopted the Push-Pull method of cultivation (Source: www.push-pull.net). In addition to direct user training, the project also provides information and training material (manuals, comics, videos, etc.). Of course, these are also translated into local languages.