Transferring biopesticide technology to the private sector – lessons learnt from LUBILOSA
Chris Lomer, IITA-PHMD
Condensed from ‘Product development and commercialisation in development assistance projects: a case study’ by D. Dent*, E. Straus*, C. Lomer and H. De Groote
* CAB International
For presentation at IITA Board of Trustees meeting 1 – 6 May 1999 Seminar on IITA’s role in relation to outreach and technology transfer Participatory Plant Health Management
This paper is available as LUBILOSA Socio-economic Working Paper Series No. 99/9 http://www.cgiar.org/iita/research/lubilosa/index.htm
1 LUBILOSA PROJECT – Overview
Project conception and rationale
LUBILOSA is an acronym for Biological control of locusts and grasshoppers (LUtte BIoloque contre les LOcustes et SAuteriaux). The project was conceived following the locust plagues of 1986 – 1989. These were the first major desert locust outbreaks in over 30 years. During this 30 year lull, the control organisations had fallen into lethargy, and the most effective control agent, dieldrin, banned in most countries without an effective replacement being developed. Treatments in the 1986 – 89 plague mostly used organophosphate chemicals, with serious side-effects on birds and other non-target organisms. Donor concern about ineffectiveness of the control operations and environmental contamination led to a search for an environmentally friendly, effective alternative. Not only was there a need for ‘green’ alternative, there was also a need to develop an integrated pest management (IPM) scheme. This was developed by FAO in the form of the EMPRES programme (Emergency Prevention Scheme for Trans-Boundary Pests and Diseases). CAB International and IITA proposed a project to investigate biological control options for locust control, highlighting the possibility of oil formulations of fungal spores. Work by Chris Prior of CABI (International Institute of Biological Control) had indicated that suspending insect pathogenic fungal spores in oil might allow them to function and infect insects under conditions of low humidity (Prior and Greathead, 1989).
Phase 1 1989 – 1992 Laboratory testing, strain selection
The project began late in 1989; work at CABI in Ascot focussed on the development of bioassay system and selection of isolates (Bateman et al., 1996), and confirmed the enhanced infectivity of the proposed oil formulations (Bateman et al., 1993). Isolates were collected by a network of collaborators based at DFPV, Niamey, Niger. An isolate of the fungus Metarhizium from Niger was selected. Isolates of this fungus were tested in laboratory, cage and on-station trials. Field observations in the framework of a systems analysis examined the role of natural enemies in regulating grasshoppers and locust populations (Shah et al., 1994).
Phase 2 1993 – 1995 Field testing, network development
Phase 2 of LUBILOSA was highly focussed on obtaining scientifically valid evidence for the field efficacy of Metarhizium (Lomer et al., 1997). Donors provided no funds for socio-economic and environmental impact modules of the phase 2 proposal. Field testing was carried out in participation with a network of collaborators from CILSS countries. Training, in the form of joint participation in field trials, was a key element. Production of fungus spores was scaled up to permit field testing on up to 50 ha plots. The key constraint was the mobility of the pest populations.
Phase 3 1996 – 1998 Implementation
For the first time in phase 3, a full-time socio-economist was employed to design a programme of studies. Similarly, an eco-toxicologist designed laboratory and field testing of Metarhizium. Mass production was scaled up at IITA Cotonou, enabling large scale field testing (Cherry et al., 1999). A ‘two-technology’ approach was adopted; the vast majority of project results were published and available in the public domain, while some elements of a high-technology specification product were kept confidential. Major advances in spore production and storage technology were made, and these have applicability beyond LUBILOSA (Hong et al., 1999). A product specification was designed, and this forms the basis for the agreement transferring the technology to the private sector. Ecotoxicological trials demonstrated the high degree of specificity of the Metarhizium product in field use (Peveling et al., 1999). Registration requirements were fulfilled, and the product is registered in South Africa and accepted by the FAO pesticide referee group (Neethling and Dent, 1998).
Phase 4 1999 – 2000 Follow up
A proposal for a follow-up phase has been submitted to donors. Two donors have accepted the proposal and some work has already begun. The objective is to stimulate demand and ensure supply of the Metarhizium product, and to design and advocate use strategies
The technology developed by LUBILOSA has been used to develop projects on the microbial control of stem-borers, banana weevil and termites.
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