Production of pearl millet in the Sahel region of West Africa is subjected to various constraints, both biotic and abiotic. Of the biotic constraints, the pearl millet ear borer, Heliocheilus albipunctella De Joannis, is rated as the most damaging since the drought of the mid 1970s in the Sahel. In years of heavy infestations, significant yield losses of up to 95% may be observed in pearl millet fields. The Integrated Management of the Pearl millet Ear Borer project (also known as GIMEM from its French acronym) is in its second four-year phase and is implemented in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. Scientists from INERA, IER, INRAN and IITA develop and test technologies of biological control of the ear borer pest using a naturally occurring parasitoid wasp, Habrobracon hebetor Say. Through farmer field schools (FFS), the project trains farmers on integrated management combining the release of the parasitoid wasp to varietal choices, and mineral and organic fertilization. The project team is also working on identifying other potent natural enemies of the pearl millet ear borer, including egg parasitoids of the species Trichogramma. Interest is also on studying the potential use of H. hebetor as a biological control agent of other economically important lepidopteran pests such as the pearl millet stem borer (Coniesta ignefusalis (Hampson) and Maruca on cowpea.
Identify areas of heavy infestations of the ear borer in the 3 countries for the diffusion of GIMEM biological control technology in order to reduce infestation levelsStrengthen the pool of technologies of integrated management of the ear borerStrengthen the capacity of all stakeholders (women and men) in integrated management of the pearl miller ear borer
Outputs and Outcomes:
Refinement and optimization of the biological control agent release technology using locally available jute bagsMethodology of village-based rearing of the parasitoid on its alternate hostsTraining of many hundreds of farmers in the three countries on rearing the parasitoid, making the release bags, and releasing it in the fields