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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:

5-148_babana_Students (women) consulting a treated rice field 
Students collecting data at a treated rice field. Photo credit Dr. Babana 
5-148_babana_Visit to rice fields in collaboration with rice farmers at OPIB 
Visit to rice fields in collaboration with rice farmers at OPIB. Photo credit: Dr. Babana 
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

In this reporting period, Dr. Babana and his team started producing the biopesticides for farmers’ field demo trials supervised by OPIB technicians. They have taken out soil and plant samples for microbiome analysis by the bioinformatics student. These microbiome studies will permit to have knowledge on the implication of soils and plant microorganisms on the efficacy of the biopesticide to be able to well manage them for a high efficacy of the treatment.

In the next few weeks, they plan to visit their collaborators at the University of Minnesota (Pr. W. David Shier) and USDA (Dr. Hamed Abbas) to learn how to produce bioplastic from maize and how to formulate a bioplastic based biopesticide containing their biocontrol bacteria. The Bioinformatic student will also stay at the University of Minnesota for five months for a new generation sequencing of the DNAs from sample soil and plants. After sequencing, he will analyze the obtained sequences.

An efficient biopesticide is developed and a private sector (Nantoumé agroindustry) is interested in this biopesticide. Also, rural farmers, mainly women, are highly working, in collaboration with OPIB and other partners to set up an eco-enterprise to produce locally the biopesticide.

In the next 3-6 months, the PEER team will  continue working on the large scale production of the biopesticide and have it tested in fields by farmers supervised by agricultural technicians. They will also work with the Direction Nationale de l’Agriculture, OPIB, Office du Niger, Nantoume agro-industry and Farmers’ organization to have the biopesticide tested in all Mali. They will organize training for farmers' group and all stakeholders in biopesticide importance and use to create awareness

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