Push-Pull East Africa

Dissemination of this successful cultivation method of maize and sorghum in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Ethiopia


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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.

The Push-Pull method was developed at icipe, the International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology in Nairobi. The Biovision projects seeking to extend its use have been running in Kenya since 2006 and were later extended to Tanzania, Uganda and Ethiopia as well. PH-12 (DPP-010) started in 2016 in Malawi and Zambia.

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.

Difference 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.


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 by up to 300%.


A total of 57,870 small-scale farmers in the different project regions benefit from the various activities of the Push-Pull programme. For example, the 3,420 direct beneficiaries in Central Kenya benefit from training in the use of the Push-Pull method and also from the transfer of knowledge on how to process and market their surplus production. A further 290,000 family members of participating farmers benefit from improved food security.

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, including the formation of a new private seed firm
  • 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


Since the project started in 2006, some 131,229 farmers in East Africa have successfully adopted the Push-Pull method of cultivation (Source: www.push-pull.net). In 2015, just under 100 new farmer groups were trained in Push-Pull and provided with napier grass, brachiaria and desmodium seed. Also in 2015, the project produced its first video series and a textbook in strip-cartoon format covering the Push-Pull method in both English and Swahili - see below.