The objective of this project was to enable the development of holistic and integrated insect pest and disease management approaches for small scale coffee farmers through evaluation and development of natural biocontrol and cultural practices.
Coffee in Kenya is an important cash and export crop for small scale farmers. It has been estimated that small holder farmers produce 60% of the export crop. Although both arabica and robusta coffee is grown, arabica forms 90% of the export crop in Kenya. The crop suffers heavy yield losses due to damage caused by a wide range of indigenous pests (insects, diseases and weeds) which affect the quality of coffee either individually or in combination. Yield losses of up to 30% have been associated with the coffee berry disease. Infestations by antestia bugs and berry borer directly lower the bean and liquor qualities. Current recommended pest control measures in Kenya include a combination of cultural practices (pruning, sanitation, mulching), the use of resisitant varieties, eg Ruiru 11 which has high resistance to coffee berry disease (CBD) and coffee leaf rust (CLR), and the use of broad spectrum synthetic pesticides. Chemical pesticides are far more popular at the farmer level than the other recommended pest control measures. Chemical control techniques have received much attention in the past, particularly for the control of the major coffee diseases (coffee berry disease, leaf rust and bacterial blight of coffee) for which fungicide application is still the main recommended practice despite the economic and environmental cost. Detrimental side-effects of pesticide application on coffee are also well known. This proposal will concentrate on establishing baseline data on current pesticide usage by the small scale farmers in Kenya, assess its economic and biological effectiveness and the interactions with natural biocontrol/or cultural processes which contribute to insect pest and disease control.