A documentation of plants used by rural small-scale farmers to control maize pests in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa
Maize (Zea mays L.) small-scale farmers in the rural areas of the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa are generally under resourced, and as a result their crops are vulnerable to pest attacks. The farmers often cannot afford farming implements and inputs, and tend to improvise with what is freely available in their surroundings. Regarding pests, farmers tend not to follow the conventional use of chemical insecticides and rather use alternative methods of control such as plant-based methods. Plant-based methods that are founded on formulations and plant combinations, have been found to be eroding due to lack of documentation. This study sought to document the names of plants used in combinations and formulations and their preparation methods so that they can be further used to set a research agenda specific to affordable pest control methods for the Province. Surveys using the convenience and stratified purposive sampling techniques were conducted in selected rural areas of the Eastern Cape Province in order to investigate the plants, their combinations and formulations as used by these farmers to control insect pests of maize. A total of 217 farmers were interviewed. Study protocols adhered to ethical standards set by the Eastern Cape Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform. Data were analysed using descriptive statistics, whereas percentages were calculated using Microsoft Excel (2010). Findings revealed that most of the plants used were from families Solanaceae and Asteraceae. The most preferred plant was Chenopodium ambrosioides, a perennial herb from the family Chenopodiceae. Although, several arthropods were mentioned by farmers as pests of maize in their cultivation areas, the predominant targets of formulations and combinations were maize stalk borers. These insects were also cited as most troublesome. The common plant part used in combinations and formulations was the leaves. The findings raised the need for a continuous scientific validation and documentation of indigenous pest control methods to bridge the generational gap and increase the range of their use.
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