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Cycle 5 (2015 Deadline)

More rice for Africa: enhancing smallholder farmers’ rice yields in Africa through the use of efficient and low cost endophytic Actinomycetes biopesticide

PI: Amadou Hamadoun Babana (, University of Sciences, Techniques and Technologies of Bamako (USTTB)
U.S. Partner: David Weller, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Wheat Health, Genetics, and Quality Research Unit
Project Dates: December 2016 - November 2019

Project Overview:

Rice is a crucial and strategic cereal crop for more than half of the population in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly in Mali. Unfortunately, diseases, primarily bacterial leaf blight and rice yellow mottle virus disease, cause the average rice yield to be below the global average. This contributes to economic losses and undermines food security. Chemical pesticides can control pathogen growth and dispersal and improve rice yield, but their high cost and harmful effects on human health and the environment limit their use in smallholder rice farms. Endophytic bacteria, which have been shown to be plant growth-promoting or pathogen-suppressing or to activate plant defense systems, can benefit plants through enhanced resistance to biotic and abiotic stresses and plant growth promotion. The use of these bacteria for disease management has great potential in the agricultural systems of West Africa. However, production and use of endophytic bacteria biopesticides has not yet been scaled up for use by farmers in West Africa.

The primary goal of this study is to increase food security in Mali. The specific objective is to improve rice productivity and competitiveness in Mali through the production and integration of endophytic bacterial biopesticides into rice production systems. The main result expected for this project is a the production of effective and low-cost biopesticides and a strategy for long-term sustainable rice pathogen biocontrol technology, which will be tested by smallholder rice farmers in Africa. By producing biopesticides at home and using local microbes and materials, the nations could save as much as $7.2 million per year in scarce foreign exchange money that could be used for government development priorities such as health and education. The project will also provide a much-needed boost to rice and biopesticide sectors, which are currently ailing segments of the economy. By improving rice yield while diminishing pesticide expenses, this project should help to alleviate smallholder poverty in Africa.

Summary of Recent Activities

During this reporting period (August-December 2017), Dr. Babana and his team established demonstrative plots managed by farmers in Baguineda and managed by researchers in Niono. Because of insecurity in fields in Niono, they installed demonstrative plots in the IER farms, as they found them more secure. The inoculum used in the different tests were produced in the inoculum production facilities installed at the Faculty of Sciences and Techniques (FST). The infestation of rice field in Baguineda by the Rice Gall Midge in 2017 forced the team to select the bacteria OP6, O19, Dily1 and Dr 3. These were mass multiplied in the installation at the FST and the biopesticides formulated. Advanced training courses to farmers and local technicians on the use of the formulated biopesticides were organized at OPIB (Baguineda) and at the Office du Niger (Niono).

Demo farm trials were installed in nine farms at the OPIB. These demo farms were managed by farmers. Results obtained showed that the tested biopesticides efficiently controlled the bacterial blight disease and also Rice Gall Midge which constitutes a great problem in Baguineda rice fields. They obtained more than 30% increase of rice production in fields treated with biopesticides compared to non-treated fields. They also observed disease decrease, variable with le biopesticide, between 70 t0 100% with highest efficacy observed with
biopesticide formulated using the bacteria Dr 3.

In the next 3-6 months, the PI and his team will travel to the University of Minnesota to visit with his USG partner and plan the second year's activities. 

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