Farmers’ ethno-ecological knowledge of vegetable pests and
pesticidal plant use in Malawi and Zambia
Stephen P. Nyirenda1,
Gudeta W. Sileshi2*, Steven R. Belmain3,
John F. Kamanula4,
Brighton M. Mvumi5, Phosiso Sola6,
Greenwell K. C. Nyirenda7 and
Philip C. Stevenson3,8
of Agricultural Research Services, Lunyangwa Agricultural
Research Station, P.O. Box 59, Mzuzu, Malawi.
Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), Southern Africa Programme,
Chitedze Agricultural Research Station, P.O. Box 30798,
Resources Institute, University of Greenwich, Chatham
Maritime, Kent, ME4 4TB, United Kingdom.
University, P/Bag 201, Luwinga, Mzuzu 2, Malawi.
of Soil science and Agricultural Engineering, University of
P.O. Box MP167, Mount Pleasant, Harare, Zimbabwe.
Alliance for Indigenous Resources, Box BE 398, Belvedere,
of Malawi, Bunda College, P.O. Box 219, Lilongwe, Malawi.
Botanic Gardens, Kew, Surrey, TW9 3DS, United Kingdom.
*Corresponding author. E-mail:
Fax: +265-1-707-323, +265999642149
Accepted 25 August, 2010
While pests are a major constraint in vegetable production
in many parts of Southern Africa, little is known about
farmers’ knowledge and management practices. A survey was
conducted among 168 and 91 vegetable farmers in Northern
Malawi and Eastern Zambia, respectively, to evaluate their
knowledge, attitudes and traditional management practices in
tomato and crucifers (brassica). All respondents in Malawi
and Zambia reported pest damage on tomato and crucifers, and
75% had used synthetic pesticides. The use of pesticidal
plants, cultural practices and resistant varieties
constituted a smaller portion of the pest control options in
both crucifers and tomato. Over 70% of the respondents were
aware of pesticidal plants, and more female (75%) than male
(55%) respondents reported using them. While over 20
different plant species were mentioned by respondents,
Tephrosia vogelii accounted for 61 and 53% of the
pesticidal species known to respondents in Malawi and
Zambia, respectively. Farmers with small landholdings were
more inclined to use pesticidal plants than those with
medium and large landholding highlighting the importance of
this management alternative for poor farmers. Most respondents
were willing to cultivate pesticidal plants, which indicate
that farmers understand the potential value of these plants
in pest management.
Azadirachta, brasicca, Tephrosia, Tithonia,