David Ojuu successfully defended his MSc thesis titled “Influence of Wetland Borders on Prevalence of Insect Pests and Natural Enemies in Maize-Soybean Cropping System in Eastern Uganda” at Makerere University Kampala (MUK) in February 2020. Supervisors approved his final draft for submission, only to have institutions lock down in early March because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ojuu has since been unable to submit the signed copies to the directorate of graduate studies, awaiting the university’s reopening..
A part-time lecturer on the agricultural and animal sciences faculty at Busitema University, he currently works for Facilitation for Innovations and Sustainable Productivity (FINASP) as programs manager, coordinating two CCRP projects within the organization: the CCRP Sorghum Uganda (partnership between NaSARRI/NARO and FINASP) and the Cereals FRN Uganda (partnership of VEDCO, FINASP, and NaSARRI).
What Ojuu offers these projects is technical capacity building to project staff in areas of experimentation, documentation, and collaborative work with farmers and other stakeholders. His interests include action and adaptive agricultural research for the betterment of peoples’ lives and collating local and scientific knowledge for sustainable innovations within agricultural landscapes.
His research sought to understand how far wetland borders can extend to influence insect pests and natural enemies’ populations and interaction in a complex cropping system such as maize-soybean intercrop. Major findings include:
- Insect pest populations increased with distance from wetland borders, with fields 500 meters farther from the wetland borders recording higher prevalence than fields within 300 meters.
- Higher parasitoids and predator abundance and diversity were in crop fields within 300 meters of wetland borders than in those 500 meters away.
- Soybean crop (intercrop with maize) recorded lower insect pest problems than maize-only crop.
- Natural enemies’ populations in crop fields at extended spatial scales from wetland borders are more enhanced when field margins possess semi-natural habitats or non-crop habitats/patches.
Ojuu’s findings connect to CCRP principles in that his research was conducted in farmers’ fields and he worked closely with farmers to understand how ecological dynamics can be used in crop insect pest management. Additionally, his research produced evidence that management of fragile, biodiversity rich habitats such as wetland borders, which are increasingly depleted for agricultural production, is crucial in sustaining biological processes of pest management in agricultural production. Also relevant is the effective use of crop diversity to sustaining ecologically based biological pest management in agricultural production.