ECHOcommunity Conversations

Desmodium seed request


#1

Linda and I have been teaching agriculture in the Moshi – Himo region of Tanzania in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro.

Army worms are a problem in this area and I have read that the “Push-Pull” method using desmodium and napier grass has been successful in Tanzania as well as Kenya and Uganda.

Church members here are interested in trying the “Push-Pull” system but they are not familiar with desmodium. They do know of napier grass. We have tried to find desmodium seed at an agricultural store here, but they had not heard of desmodium.

Do you have desmodium seed available? We need the type that is used to repel moths of the army worm and stem bore vectors.

An interesting side note about using chemical sprays for insect control. We were told yesterday that the first president of Tanzania died as a result of doing practical agricultural training in the use of chemicals. An 80 year old farmer said he was against using any chemicals on his farm. Thus the interest in the “Push-Pull” methods are very high here.


#2

Good to hear from you! We actually don’t have seeds of that particular desmodium here in Florida. It is “Silverleaf Desmodium” Desmodium uncinatum.

I’ll check with Erwin and the ECHO East Africa center in Arusha (easeeds@echonet.org) to see if they have a supply. If not they may know of a source. I used to be able to buy them in Kenya.


#3

Obtaining desmodium seed is difficult; we produce minute quantities from our small ECHO gardens - not even a kilogram, but we provide minute packets to people to reproduce and you can obtain a free packet if you visit us. Seed companies in East Africa generally are uninterested in this crop as it is hardly economically viable with erratic demand. We once imported desmodium seed from Australia where I am sure you can still obtain (e.g. https://www.seedquest.com/suppliers.php?type=supplier&id_article=10250&orgtype=scompany.

At our ECHO gardens we have greenleaf desmodium (D.intortum) and tree desmodium (Desmodium rensonii I brought from Philippines in the 1990’s) but silverleaf is available at LITA Tengeru.

I think the push-pull works well with either herbaceous variety - silverleaf or greenleaf desmodium. So it isn’t a quick fix, as you will need to multiply it yourselves to get the quantity you eventually need to see a positive push-pull effect. Many small farmers in the Meru/Arusha catchment use it already in their napier/setaria/Guatemala contours. We have promoted it for years - in Kilimanjaro, too, promoted by Heifer and FAO jointly, and I am sure there are many Chagga who have it, too…maybe you have asked the wrong farmers!


#4

Does anyone know of a supply of Desmodium Intortum in West Africa? I am working in Northern Ghana where we would like to try the push-pull method to combat the amyworm infestation here. Any info would really be appreciated.

Also, is there any info on the risk of Desmodium becoming invasive in our west african context?

-Nate