Crossing Borders for IPM

(This is an abridged version of the report. For full version please see PDF)


This report was prepared by the SP-IPM Coordinator, Dr I. Hoeschle-Zeledon, using information provided by SP-IPM scientists and with inputs from the SP-IPM Chairman, Prof. R. Sikora.





This report provides an overview of the evolution of the Systemwide Program on Integrated Pest Management (SP-IPM) of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), during two years that brought positive changes to the Program but also led IPM to a decisive crossroads influencing its future in the CGIAR.

During the reporting period 2009-2010, the management team continued its efforts to reorient the Program to a broader, modern, and more interactive platform for IPM researchers of the international agricultural research Centers. The goal was to bring together those willing to collaborate across the borders of their institutions, and to make systemwide thinking the entry point into future IPM research within the CGIAR and associated Centers.

The report focuses on internal measures taken to improve operations and on the implementation of the research framework. It also highlights an expert meeting organized to discuss the latest methodological and technological advances in IPM and their suitability for small-scale farmers in developing countries to confront the increasing need for higher food production. It presents the outcome of that meeting, a White Paper, that advocates a broader, multidisciplinary approach to crop protection and provides guidance to research institutions, policymakers, and donor agencies on how to increase the impact of crop protection research. It also describes the measures taken to position IPM research and SP-IPM in the future CGIAR. In its annexes, the report also features a list of publications produced and events organized by SP-IPM scientists.

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Revitalizing SP-IPM

The Chairman and Coordinator completed their round of visits to all member Centers by travelling to the headquarters of ICRISAT, AVRDC, and IRRI in January 2009. icipe and AfricaRice were also visited within the year. The visits were very fruitful because the SP-IPM management team could establish personal contacts with scientists and Centers’ management, and remind them of the benefits of active participation in SP-IPM.

In late 2009, membership of SP-IPM was extended from institutions to individual scientists to increase their commitment to and benefits from SP-IPM. Until today, over 90 scientists of different relevant disciplines have subscribed as active members, willing to contribute in many ways to make SP-IPM a useful forum where solutions are developed to problems of pests and diseases in the crops of farmers in developing countries.

To allow faster decision making and a quicker feed back to the Secretariat, an Executive Steering Committee was established in May 2009, composed of the Chairman, three Steering Committee members, and the Coordinator as the secretary. An Executive Steering Committee meeting was held in September 2009 and a full Steering Committee meeting in March 2010. Both followed other SP-IPM organized events that were taking place in Germany.

A new website was designed and launched that better serves the needs of the IPM community within and beyond the Program. The new site went online in December 2009 and links to other relevant IPM information sources for greater utility. For better identification of specific expertise available within SP-IPM, a searchable expert database has been created and uploaded on the website with open access.

Beginning in 2010, a quarterly e-newsletter was launched, targeting SP-IPM members and partners, investors, and interested individuals and organizations.

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Implementing the research framework

In early 2008, the SP-IPM team agreed on a research framework for the future with three research thrusts that are supported by capacity building activities:

  • Adaptation of IPM to climate variability and change
  • Improving agroecosystem resilience for soil, root, and plant health
  • Managing contaminants in foods, feeds, and the environment.

To implement this framework, multi-Center project proposals were developed and submitted as a response to suitable calls from funding agencies. This aims at enhancing inter-Center collaboration in IPM research; the Secretariat therefore encourages projects that are developed and carried out by multiple members. Three proposal submissions were successful in 2009, and project implementation started the following year.

Together with other partners, a project on Expanding the rational and biological control of invasive Liriomyza leafminer flies to major horticultural production systems of East Africa is being implemented by the SP-IPM members CIP and icipe, the lead Center.

CIP is implementing a project on Predicting climate change-induced vulnerability of African agricultural systems to major insect pests through advanced insect phenology modeling, and decision aid development for adaptation planning. With icipe and IITA being among the partner institutions, two more SP-IPM centers are contributing to the project.

The third project, led by AVRDC in collaboration with IITA, icipe, and others is on Less loss, more profit, better health: reducing the losses caused by the pod borer (Maruca vitrata) on vegetable legumes in Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa by refining component technologies of a sustainable management strategy.

Two new three-year projects have already been accepted by the German Government for funding. These are: Enhancing horticultural productivity, incomes and livelihoods through integrated management of aphid pests on vegetables in sub-Saharan Africaled by IITA and executed in collaboration with icipe and AVRDC, and Combating fruit flies and mango seed weevils through community-based implementation of a sustainable IPM program for mango in sub-Saharan Africa under the leadership of icipe and in partnership with IITA.

These projects will be initiated in early 2011 to close existing knowledge gaps and develop technologies that help farmers to save more of their harvests and increase income opportunities.

To explore further opportunities of joint research projects that would fit into the SP-IPM focus areas the SP-IPM Secretariat organized a brainstorming meeting with six representatives of the plant sciences and food industry, and food retailers. The meeting was hosted by the German Agency for Technical Cooperation (GTZ) in September 2009 at their headquarters. Two representatives of the GTZ Advisory Group on Agricultural Research and one from the Public-Private-Partnership Program also participated.

Opportunities for collaboration between SP-IPM and industry were identified in the field of mycotoxins management, especially deoxynivalenol(DON)and fumonisin toxins in wheat and maize. Shared topics were in the areas of (i) the improvement of agroecosystem resilience research on the combination of germplasm resistance with chemical and biological seed treatment to control pests, (ii) conservation agriculture with herbicides and appropriate machinery in North Africa and West Asia, and (iii) good agricultural practices to conserve biodiversity and soil health while reducing pesticide use. Capacity development among national policymakers, researchers, and extension specialists to promote IPM strategies and allow a better assessment of risks from pests was an area where progress could be made. Capacity building could build on the existing courses developed by industry, however, with a stronger focus on biological control, ecological engineering, and other forms of non-chemical technologies.

After the strong expression of interest by CAB International, to explore how SP-IPM and the CGIAR in general could increase benefits from a closer cooperation with CABI while also contributing to CABI’s mission and goals, the SP-IPM Secretariat was invited to the CABI Bioscience UK center in Egham to discuss with the CEO and a group of scientists.

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Bringing crop protection into the limelight

The world has become fully aware of the challenge to provide more healthy and nutritious food for a population growing ever faster when natural resources, such as water and land, are being rapidly depleted. The logical step to address the challenge is to secure the attainable yields existing by reducing or preventing the constantly occurring losses caused by biotic factors in the field and later during storage. IPM research and its implementation have achieved a great deal in the past, but not enough to avoid regular food shortages in certain regions of the world therefore there is an urgent need for increased support to modernize IPM programs by adding new technologies to those already existing. In the future, crop protectionists will be expected not only to reduce yield losses substantially to attain higher levels of food security, but will also be asked to solve food safety problems.

Access to international markets by farmers of the poorer countries is seen as an appropriate means to foster development. However, to enter the global market place, farmers have to meet international standards of food safety and this fact is often overlooked. IPM can make a major contribution to help deal with this predicament. In addition to its primary role of reducing crop losses, IPM is increasingly associated with the provision of other benefits, such as ecosystem services. Healthy, biodiversity-rich environments, culturally diverse landscapes, clean waterways, and watershed protection are services and public goods that IPM has to deliver. Managing landscapes through ecological engineering (e.g., push and pull, intercropping, relay and sequential planting, border strips, living mulches) is a valid way of improving livelihoods in areas where advanced technology is not affordable.

To brainstorm and develop a vision on how pest management can be improved to counter future problems in food security and food safety, SP-IPM gathered forward-looking experts with relevant disciplines from academia, industry, and civil society at a 2½ days workshop in Bonn, Germany (3-5 March 2010). At the meeting, benchmark technologies were presented and their suitability for different target farmers was discussed. New approaches were explored to the development of innovative technologies, their adaptation, and delivery to farmers. The full workshop report (Plant Health Management in a changing world – innovative pathways towards food security and food safety) with all presentations and discussions is available on the SP-IPM website. The findings formed the basis for the publication of a White Paper entitled Integrated Pest Management and Crop Health – bringing together sustainable agroecosystems and people’s health. In this White Paper, a call is made for a change in mindset. Addressing crop production, crop protection, and sustainable agriculture separately and delivering component technologies should be supplanted by integrated multidisciplinary approaches. The move away from the isolated management of single pests on one crop towards CHM across crops and agricultural system performance is congruent with farmers’ concerns and the broader pest situation in the field.

To promote SP-IPM and advocate for support to CHM research, the Chairman and Coordinator visited several international institutions and attended international meetings. This include:

  • The Asian Development Bank in Manila, The Philippines, in early 2009
  • The CGIAR 2009 Science Forum in the Netherlands
  • In September 2009, the World Bank Development Research Group seminar on sanitary and phytosanitary(SPS) risks
  • The High-Level Expert Forum How to Feed the World in 2050 organized by FAO
  • The sixth International Integrated Pest Management Symposium: Transcending Boundaries, 24-26 March 2009 in Portland, USA
  • In August 2010, the XII Congreso Internacional de Manejo Integrado de Palgas in Managua, Nicaragua.
  • The Humboldt Forum for Food and Agriculture meetings, 2009 and 2010.

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Steering Committee meetings

The newly established Executive Steering Committee met for the first time in September 2009 in at GTZ headquarters in Germany in continuation of the meeting with the private sector. The main topic on the agenda, however, was the structure, attendance, and funding strategy for the proposed expert workshop mentioned above.

Dovetailed to the expert workshop, a Steering Committee meeting was held on 6 March 2010 in Bonn, Germany. This was the first Steering Committee meeting since the current management team took office. During the meeting, it was agreed to continue the tradition and to organize a symposium at the 2011 International Plant Protection Conferences. The suggested title of the symposium was Crop Health Management for Food Safety and Agroecosystem Health in Developing Countries.

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  1. APS and Bioversity International awards for Prof. Richard Sikora, SP-IPM Chairman
  2. Outstanding Promising Young Scientist award for Dr Jonne Rodenburg, AfricaRice Weed Scientist

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Preparing for the future

The CGIAR reform, with the new CGIAR Research Programs (CRPs) becoming the future way of doing research and delivering outputs and outcomes, has been posing a challenge to SP-IPM throughout the reporting period. This has not only affected midterm planning and the active engagement of scientists but has also caused some donors to be reluctant to invest in SP-IPM.

It has been a concern for SP-IPM that research to develop new technologies for pest management might not be given the necessary importance in the reformed CGIAR. During the process of the development of the CGIAR’s new Strategy and Results Framework, the SP-IPM Secretariat provided inputs into the various drafts of the document. With the support of the Executive Steering Committee, the Secretariat prepared a position paper to draw attention to the severity of crop losses and the need for the continuous development of appropriate IPM methods as a contribution to improved food security and safety. The paper called for increased consideration of IPM research in the new CGIAR. The Secretariat and many SP-IPM scientists also participated actively in the development of the proposals for the CRPs.

Crop and yield protection, beyond germplasm enhancement to increase host plant resistance, will have its place in the CRPs. However, the future of SP-IPM in view of the forthcoming CRPs is not yet determined. No single CRP provides a logical home. Several, if not all, will have to include research on biotic stresses to achieve the objectives set. This will likely lead to a compartmentalization of crop health management research within the CGIAR Consortium. The SP-IPM scientists feel that in future they might be detached from one another and lose visibility within these big Programs should SP-IPM cease to exist as a forum for the exchange of experience and knowledge and as the linkage between Centers and crop protection scientists. The SP-IPM members see a continued need for a coordinating and communication mechanism also with regards to the outside world. To provide these functions within the future structural and administrative setup will be challenging.

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Financial Information

Summary of 2009 and 2010 donor contributions to the SP-IPM Secretariat (US$). See PDF



  • Events organized by SP-IPM scientists
  • Publications by SP-IPM scientists
  • Web sites managed by SP-IPM members
  • Videos
  • SP-IPM member Centers and Steering Committee Members


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