Ohio State tapped to lead major IPM project in East Africa

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJohn Cardina, professor in CFAES’s Department of Horticulture and Crop Science, along with collaborating faculty in the Office of International Programs in Agriculture and four other departments in the college, have been awarded a major Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Innovation Lab project titled “Vegetable Crops for East Africa.” This five-year, $2 million project is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and focuses on building the capacity of institutions in Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania to implement effective IPM research and locally adapted technology transfer programs that increase environmental benefits, farm productivity and incomes and that inform national and regional policies.

IPM is a holistic approach to solving pest problems through biological, cultural, chemical and physical means while minimizing the risks to people and the environment.

“CFAES faculty at Ohio State are very fortunate to be able to lead this effort following many years of working and building relationships in East Africa,” says Cardina, who has worked previously in the region and specializes in a variety of subject matters including weed ecology and sustainable plant communities. “Our highly interdisciplinary team of researchers in the U.S. and East Africa will implement IPM research and technology transfer programs in ways that are locally adapted and gender-appropriate.”

The IPM Innovation Lab, which is managed by Virginia Tech University, is one of 24 Feed the Future Innovation Labs — collaborative research projects led by U.S. universities that seek to advance novel solutions to reduce global hunger, poverty and undernutrition in 19 Feed the Future priority countries.

Cardina and other CFAES faculty will work with researchers from the University of California-Davis and Virginia Tech and with key in-country collaborators including the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO), the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Nairobi, the University of Hawassa in Ethiopia, Real IPM, and the Sokoine University of Agriculture and the Mikocheni Agriculture Research Institute in Tanzania.

“Working closely with these in-country partners will build their capacity to innovatively scale up integrated pest management practices, as well as enhance their collaborative relationships with Ohio State and other U.S. partners,” says Mark Erbaugh, a co-PI on the project and director of the Office of International Programs in Agriculture.

Ohio State, through CFAES faculty, has led and/or actively participated in previous Innovation Lab projects specializing in IPM (1993-2014), horticulture (2010-2102), and sorghum and millet (2007-2013) in East Africa and is eager to leverage those historic linkages and successes toward this project’s efforts to develop, implement and scale up IPM technologies for several horticultural crops of significance for small-holder farmers in East Africa.

The full list of project principal investigators (PIs) and co-PIs from Ohio State:

  • John Cardina, Department of Horticulture and Crop Science.
  • Mark Erbaugh, Office of International Programs in Agriculture and OSU Extension.
  • Sally Miller, Department of Plant Pathology.
  • Cathy Rakowski, School of Environment and Natural Resources.
  • Matthew Kleinhenz, Department of Horticulture and Crop Science.
  • Luis Cañas, Department of Entomology.

(Photo: Tomato farmers in East Africa from Office of International Programs in Agriculture.)

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