Bug Blog

How Do Third World Farmers Control Termite Pests Without Insecticides?

How Do Third World Farmers Control Termite Pests Without Insecticides?

It can be safely said that most people living in America consider termites to be among the most damaging of insect pests. However, termite damage in America is limited almost entirely to timber-framed structures. With the exception of Formosan termite damage to certain fruit trees, American crops are free from termite-related pest issues. But in other countries, termites can be damaging to structures and crops alike. Today there are nearly twenty nine hundred termite species that have been documented, and a good number of these species inhabit regions of Africa. No continent on earth is as rich in termite life as the continent of Africa. Understandably, Africa’s diverse termite species can be problematic for native farmers. Most African nations are relatively underdeveloped industrially, which means that native farmers are lacking advanced methods of insect pest control. Despite Africa’s lack of modern advancements in the field of agriculture, native farmers make use of several traditional and highly obscure methods of insect pest control in their crops.

In the African country of Benin, the crops that are the most vulnerable to termite damage include maize, sorghum, yam, rice, peanut, Bambara groundnut, and millet. Not long ago American academics conducted research concerning the pest control methods used by farmers in developing African countries. The researchers found that termite-related crop damage greatly hindered agricultural production in Benin and other African countries. Unlike American farmers, African farmers are forced to contend with large regions of land that contain numerous termite mounds. The removal of these mounds is a necessity in order to prevent termite-induced crop damage on nearby farms. These mounds are also obstacles for plowing machinery. Unfortunately, there does not exist any advanced methods of mound-removal, so many African farmers must laboriously use their own hands to remove termite mounds that are located dangerously close to their farms. Many farmers in Benin use salt to keep termites away from stored grains since no chemical insecticides are available to them. In order to create improvised bait traps to reduce termite populations in crops, farmers in Nigeria and Ghana specifically obtain cow dung to attract termites to poison. However, in other African nations cow dung is not utilized as a form of bait; instead cow dung is used as a fertilizer that inconveniently attracts more termite pests to crops. There is some evidence to suggest that the use of cow dung in improvised bait traps is effective. This evidence has prompted further research into the use of cow dung for termite control purposes.

Do you think that the international community should take a greater interest in preventing insect pest damage to African crops since the native population is largely dependent on agricultural food products?