West Africa is the major world producer of cowpea.
In this zone the cowpea seeds represents an important food and cash crop for small farmers and a major source of dietetary proteins.
The different species of bruchids developing into the seeds cause high losses during storage.
The adults of these species colonize the cowpea cultures at the end of the rainy season and the bruchid populations are carried into the stores where they continue to develop.
During the first EEC programme, a larval parasitoid Dinarmus basalis and an egg parasitoid Uscana lariophaga have shown to be promising candidates for biological control of the bruchids in Niger.
The new programme is proposed by scientists of four african and three european universities.
Its aim is to develop technology for utilizing these parasitoids under different climatic and biocenotic conditions of West Africa. For this aim, studies will be carried out in Africa and Europe in order to analyse : - the three species of cowpea bruchids and their populations in different zones of West Africa.
The determination of some biological characteristics of these bruchids which could influence the populations of parasitoids is essential for development of the biological control methods.
- the incidence of the parasitoids on the bruchid populations in the field and then in the dry and wet zones of West Africa.
The role of wild Leguminosae as reservoir of bruchids and parasitoids will be particularly examined in fields and subsequently in stores. - the consequences of the insecticide treatments in the cowpea fields before harvesting on the bruchids and the parasitoid populations during storage.
- the behaviour, the fecundity and the parasitization capacities of the egg and larval parasitoids under different climatic and biocenotic conditions. These researches will predict the impact of the parasitoids by modelling bruchid parasitoid interactions.
The biological control methods by inoculation of the parasitoids in the stores and by analysis of the conservation methods in some traditional systems of storage will be developed in dry and wet zones.
This biological control is a cheap and efficient method of cowpea protection.
It also lacks any adverse effects on the environment.
During this research programme, extensive cooperation between the three european and the four african universities will be developed. Five young scientists will be employed to participate in this project and they will receive training and experience in the application of biological control and tropical entomology.
The "Departement de Formation en Protection des Vegetaux" from Niamey will disseminate the research results through its regular training programmes.
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts
TW20 0EX Egham
6700 EH Wageningen