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Natural Pest Deterrents for Nursery Seedlings

by Community Forests International on January 7, 2011

One of the most common requests made by CFP communities to intern Lisa Hansen this growing season has been for dawa kwa miti, medicine for trees.  Inquiries revealed that the 'medicine' communities were referring to is a chemical pesticide available on the island which contains endosulphan.  Lisa's further research revealed that endusulphan is an insecticide banned in over 60 countries for its bioaccumulative abilities and effects on the endocrine system.  That community members were sometimes applying this product to their crops and seedlings was very troubling to Lisa and the CFI team.

Knowing a little about natural pesticides, Lisa experimented with useful plants available at the local market to develop an an all-purpose pest deterrent recipe; a safe, affordable and easy to make alternative to the chemical pesticide. Testing different doses of the recipe on seedlings during low and peak sunlight periods to evaluate its ability to burn leaves and otherwise harm seedlings proved it was safe for application. Excited by the prospects of this natural pest deterrent, Lisa began to teach the Chasasa community how to make and use it.  The results were great, no more pests!

Three weeks later a trained Chasasa nursery member, lovingly called 'Dr. Wahida', is now responsible for preparing the 'natural dawa' and applying it as needed. In response to the effectiveness and quick adoption of the recipe at Chasasa, Lisa and Dr. Wahida are now also training other communities in its preparation and use.

Lisa's 'natural dawa' lessons reflect organic farming theory and plant care by highlighting prevention vs. reaction as the best strategy for healthy nurseries and farms.  Community members are often familiar with these concepts in relation to maintaining good human health.  Homemade medicines from plant materials are still widely used on Pemba and people are aware of their effectiveness to ward off bacteria and viruses.  Attendants easily understood the idea that plant medicine for our bodies can also be useful for plants. Attendants were also trained to experiment before application, and learned that to be a good plant doctor you have to be a good cook, a good mother and a good scientist!

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The recipe is provided below and if you are interested in the lesson plan contact Lisa for further information. Additionally, if you have any natural recipes that are useful to employ in tropical environments we would be happy to receive them and try them out.

Natural Pest Deterrent

4 bulbs of garlic

2 onions

4 hot peppers

1 tbsp of soap

1.5 litres of water

Chop garlic, onions and peppers and place in water for 24 hours. Strain and pour into spray bottle and add soap. Spray in the mornings or evenings, to avoid burning plants, after you have watered plants to avoid washing it off. Keep it in the fridge for prolonged use as it will spoil after a couple of weeks. Spray all over the leaves, on ant colonies targeting larvae, and increase the frequency of your application at times of infestation. Monitor it's effectiveness and change the dose of ingredients as needed.

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