Emerging and new pests under climate change in Limpopo Province, South Africa.
Phophi, Mutondwa Masindi.
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Vegetable production is constrained by pests such as weeds, insects and diseases. The damage caused by pests and diseases can be highly exacerbated by climatic changes and variability. Poor agricultural practices play a role in increasing greenhouse gas emissions which contribute to climate change. Climatic factors such as increased temperature, increased carbon dioxide levels and erratic rainfall are responsible for influencing pest distributions, pest migration and increased pest population. Distribution and migration of pests can also result from globalization, trade and movement of people. Poor biosecurity and phytosanitary measures are also involved in bringing new pests in countries. This study was conducted in Limpopo Province in four municipalities of Vhembe District (Mutale, Musina, Makhado and Thulamela). Quantitative and qualitative techniques were used in data collection. Data was collected through questionnaire surveys, focus groups discussions and key informants. Farmers were randomly selected from a list provided by extension officers in each municipality. Three focus groups were conducted in each municipality consisting of seven women, seven men and a combined group of seven men and women. Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) was used to compare mean differences between different variables. Means and significant differences between means were declared at P ≤ 0.05. The aim of this study was to evaluate the presence of new and emerging pests in Limpopo Province. The major objectives of the study were to evaluate farmer’s perception on climate change and new and emerging pests, to determine the control measures used by farmers to manage vegetable insect pests, to evaluate the role of institutions on insect pest management, and to determine new and emerging pests in the district. Results of the study indicated that long dry spells, late rainfall and warmer winters were major indicators of climate change in Limpopo Province. Famers in all municipalities perceived aphids as major problematic insect pests to vegetables and were not significantly different from each other (P > 0.05). The highest percentage of aphid prevalence was found in Mutale municipality (82.1%) and the lowest was found in Thulamela municipality (66.7%). Tuta absoluta (South American tomato pinworm) and Spodoptera frugiperda were reported as new insect pests in Vhembe District. Tuta absoluta was only reported in Musina municipality. Spodoptera frugiperda was significantly higher in Makhado irrigated system (72%) and was significantly different from Musina municipality (8.3%) and Thulamela dryland system (19%). Bagrada hilaris (bagrada bug) and Acanthoplus discoidalis (armoured bush cricket) were observed as emerging pests in the district. Thulamela dryland system (73%) was significantly different from Thulamela irrigated system (33%) and Musina municipality (41%) in terms of Bagrada hilaris prevalence. Musina municipality (50%) was significantly different from the rest of the municipalities with respect to Acanthoplus discoidalis prevalence (P < 0.05). The lowest prevalence of amoured cricket was found in Mutale irrigated system (9.52%). All municipalities showed that they highly depended on chemical control for pest management. All municipalities except Makhado dryland system, mentioned that chemicals were effective for insect pest management. The percentage of farmers who agreed that chemicals were effective was significantly different from farmers who did not agree that chemicals were effective (P < 0.05). The overall study showed that climatic factors increased the prevalence of insect pests in Limpopo Province. High temperatures could have influenced the population and distribution of insect pests. New insect pests observed seemed to have quickly adapted to climatic factors in Limpopo Province and therefore, resulted to severe damage on host crops. The study also emphasized that chemical control was effective for insect pest management. However, farmers were over applying pesticides to kill insect pests. This resulted in high levels of pesticide resistance. Frequent application of pesticides can be harmful to the environment and to human health, and can also increase the level of pesticide residues on vegetables. More studies need to be conducted on the biology of new and emerging insect pests in Limpopo Province. Awareness on new and emerging insect pests must be raised to assist farmers in preparedness on how to manage insect pests. Farmers need to be trained more on chemical control measures and other control measures such as integrated pest management and biological control for pest management. The government should also train extension officers on climate change and insect pests, climate smart agriculture and effects of pesticides in order to deliver relevant advisory services to farmers.