NRI trainers, Jerry Cooper, Alan Cork and Hans Dobson, have successfully completed a series of well received IPM workshops for young researchers in three focus countries of the Association for Strengthening Capacity in Central and Eastern Africa (ASARECA). The training, funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) under its SCARDA project (Strengthening Capacity in Agricultural Research and Development in Africa) which is implemented by the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA). Around 100 researchers in Rwanda, Burundi and The Sudan participated in the 5 day IPM courses which were designed to develop capacity in Integrated Pest management (IPM) which is a sustainable way to reduce damage from pests, diseases and weeds. The intensive courses used a range of training approaches including interactive participatory sessions, break-outs, presentations and field visits to broaden participants' understanding and appreciation of the tactics that can be used in IPM and the potential benefits from implementation for farming communities and consumers. Follow the link to a presentation of participants at work during their field visits.

Sustainable agricultural production depends on farmers' knowledge of, and access to cost-effective and environmentally benign pest and disease control technologies. The best approach to crop pest management for farming systems in both developed and developing countries is widely recognised to be based on integrated pest management. The range of cultural, biological, physical and chemical methods, with an emphasis on avoiding unnecessary pesticides, can bring considerable benefits, whether applied at the farm level or via centrally-controlled, area-wide pest management (AW-PM) initiatives that are more appropriate for some biotic constraints such as fruit fly control.

The Association for Strengthening Capacity in Central and Eastern Africa (ASARECA) commissioned NRI trainers to undertake a series of three IPM workshops for young researchers in national institutes through the DFID-funded project entitled "Strengthening Capacity in Agricultural Research and Development in Africa" (SCARDA) in three focus countries, Rwanda, Burundi and The Sudan. Programmes were developed to meet local needs by working with the three national agricultural research institutes; Institut des Sciences Agronomiques du Rwanda (ISAR), Institut des Sciences Agronomiques du Burundi (ISABU) and the Agricultural Research Corporation (ARC), The Sudan. Feedback suggested a high degree of satisfaction from participants and the attendance levels which always exceeded 95% confirmed the enthusiasm for the training.

The philosophy of the training workshops was to use a mix of the most appropriate pest management options such as cultural, biological, physical and chemical control techniques for the range of weeds, insects and diseases affecting crops. Examples were given of successful IPM techniques in a range of agro-ecological environments, based on technologies such as sterile insect release, mating disruption, augmentative parasitoid releases as well as more traditional methods such as use of disease resistant crops. Each course programme included 20 sessions over five days. A range of teaching aids was used to both engage participants and ensure that messages were understood. The majority of time was spent in the training rooms, but on each course one day was devoted to a field visit to nearby vegetable and fruit growing areas. Before the field visit, information-gathering tasks were set to learn what tactics were being used by farmers and to understand the challenges they face. The attached presentation provides an insight into the cropping situations and some of the issues raised during the field visits.