The Feed the Future IPM Innovation Lab 10 Year Report, 2004-2014 available at:
IPM: Advancing agriculture into the future
The concept of integrated pest management is an old one. Early farmers
couldn’t have known that such things as viruses or bacteria were attack-
ing their crops, but they did the best they could. Ancient Egyptians and
Sumerians used herbs and oils to control insect pests. In the 1100s, Chinese
discovered that soap worked to defend plants against nefarious insects.
Then, in the 20th century, along came the discovery of chemical pesti-
cides. While they at first seemed like a panacea, people soon learned of the
potentially harmful effects of using heavy doses of these compounds in an
inefficient manner. By the 1950s, scientists had discovered that some in-
sects had even developed high levels of pesticide resistance. The time was
ripe for a new approach, and so was born the modern concept of integrated
pest management: a holistic system that uses a suite of techniques that help
farmers produce high volumes of healthful crops in a sustainable, environ-
mentally friendly manner.
The result of applying IPM principles has been astounding. Around the
world, livelihoods have been restored and farmer incomes increased, al-
lowing parents to send their children to school and to buy nutritious food.
In southern India, papaya farmers have seen the destruction of the papa-
ya mealybug pest; in Bangladesh, the introduction of grafting has allowed
farmers to grow eggplant that resists the devastating scourge of bacterial
wilt; and in West Africa, the “host-free” technique of growing tomatoes has
meant that farmers can again grow this commercially valuable crop in an
environment prone to high levels of white fly infestation.
These life-changing interventions have all occurred over the past 10 years.
An economic study published in theJournal of Crop Protection showed that
one intervention alone—the destruction of the papaya mealybug in India via
biological control—represented $1.34 billion in savings.
On my trips throughout the world to monitor the progress of this program,
as I sit with men and women in farmer cooperatives, walk into tomato fields
and cabbage patches bursting with beautiful produce, and attend workshops
on invasive species, I have seen the smiles on farmer’s faces, the excitement
of a local scientist who reports a major discovery, and the laughter of well-
This is why I am so proud of the work that we, the United States Agency for
International Development, allied with all our partners around the world,
are doing. We could have no better partner than Virginia Tech to lead this
effort, no better partnering universities and research organizations in the
United States and around the world, and no better scientists, students, and
extension agents in our target countries.
This is why I am confident that we can meet the challenge of feeding the
world’s growing population. This is why I look forward to the next five year
phase (2014-2019) of the IPM Innovation Lab with eagerness, optimism,
and high expectations.
— John E. Bowman, Ph.D.
Plant Pathologist/USAID Program Area Leader for
Nutritious and Safe Foods/USAID Agreement Officer’s
Representative (AOR) for the IPM Innovation Lab
Editor’s note: For more information regarding the IPM Innovation Lab please contact Prof. R. Muniappan at: email@example.com