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From: Food security – Footsteps 77

Tools and ideas for improving food security

‘Natural pest management’ is a method of controlling pests without using chemicals. Instead, other insects, birds, animals, plants or mechanical techniques are used.

Chemical pesticides have many disadvantages. Although they remove the pest, they also kill many of the insects that are useful to the crop, can pollute soil and water supplies, and make people sick. The benefits of chemical pesticides decrease over time as pests become resistant to them. This means that the pesticide kills the weaker pests, leaving the strongest to breed a new generation which is immune to the pesticide.

What is a pest?


A pest is an insect or animal which causes damage to a plant or crop. It is possible for an insect or animal to be a pest in one situation and beneficial in another. Pests come in all shapes and sizes. Here are some of the common pests and the problems they cause:

Learning about pests

Before deciding which pest control method to use, it is important to learn about the pest. It would be a mistake to waste time and money controlling an insect or animal when it is not even bothering the plant.

  1. Identify the pest For example, if there are holes in leaves, go to the plant at different times of day and night to see if you can find the pest in action. It can be helpful to talk to neighbours and local farmers to find out what pests are common locally.
  2. Learn about the pest Learn about its life cycle, food and natural enemies. Often there is a stage of the life cycle at which it is easier to control the pest, such as getting rid of eggs before the insects hatch. A pest can be controlled by removing its food source or introducing natural enemies (predators). To obtain this information, talk to local farmers and extension workers or see if there are books in a local library.
  3. Monitor the behaviour of the pest Does the pest appear on a seasonal basis? Can it be found all over the plant or crop or only in certain places? Is the pest increasing or decreasing in number?
  4. Decide when to take action Remember that all insects are part of the natural environment and we should try not to disturb the natural balance unless it is necessary. It is only worth investing money in pest control if the cost of damage by the pest is greater than the cost of controlling it.
  5. Evaluate the effect After a natural pest control method is used, evaluate its effect. Will you use this method again for this pest or should another be tried? Did the method affect other insects? Was that a good thing or a bad thing? 

Natural pest controls




It is possible to create pesticides using natural ingredients. For example, caterpillars and aphids can be controlled using a papaya leaf spray. To make the spray:


Mechanical pest controls are very simple to put into practice. They can include:

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