The Malawi Smallholder Dairy Development Project, a three-year project funded by Heifer International and USAID, is trying a unique approach to pest management called the “push-pull technology.” Push-pull, first used in the late 1980s, uses certain plants to attract and trap insects, and other plants to repel them. In the Malawi project, corn is the main crop, which farmers interplant with Napier grass and desmodium. Napier grass is an effective “pull” plant, physically trapping larvae in its sticky secretion. Desmodium is the “push,” emitting chemicals that repel plants. Both crops can also be used as livestock feed.
Seven farmers from the project are experimenting with the push-pull technology. According to a quarterly report from Heifer Malawi, they have reported less insect damage to their crops.