tag cloud Productive & Resilient Ecosystems Pests & Diseases Capacity Strengthening Partnerships Sustainability Agricultural biodiversity

Crop diversity for pest and disease management


As an alternative to pesticide use, Bioversity International has been working since 2004 with partners in China, Ecuador, Morocco and Uganda, to investigate the most effective ways to use crop diversity for pest and disease management.


The research focuses on six major staples that are important to food security: rice, maize, barley, common bean, faba bean and banana. In 2012, researchers worked with farmers to plant different varieties of the same crops next to each other, to see which combinations provide the most effective control against which pests and diseases. These sites are still being monitored and the results are already making an important contribution to other pest and disease management practices.


Another important component of this initiative is training and raising awareness. Seed fairs, demonstrations and workshops were held in the different countries to teach farmers how to use diversity and other ways to control pests and diseases throughout the production cycle. These included seed cleaning, post-harvest crop protection, seed selection for future use, and even ways to use pesticides more wisely. Guideline booklets, posters and radio programmes were also part of the awareness-raising process.


The work is funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN and is based on ‘Conservation and use of crop genetic diversity to control pests and diseases in support of sustainable agriculture’, a global multi-country Global Environment Facility (GEF) supported project in China, Ecuador, Morocco and Uganda. The project was implemented by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and coordinated by Bioversity as the project executing agency. This research contributes to the CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems.



Photo: Variety of bean seeds - Credit: Bioversity International/E. Dulloo