FED Report: Insects of Vegetables in Liberia

The purpose of this document is to provide a context for crop protection in peri-urban agriculture in Liberia for extension staff working in the Food and Enterprise Development Project in Liberia (FED). The definition of peri-urban agriculture used in this document is production of vegetables for sale as fresh produce or minimally processed products such as dried chilis. Of necessity the document is far from complete and entire categories of crop pests such as post harvest diseases and moulds, physiological problems, nematodes and weed species have not been included for lack of time and analytical equipment. As such the document must be treated as a work in progress and the interested reader is invited to help elaborate on and add to the contents. The fact that this document can only be a preliminary draft to a more comprehensive document compiled by all those participating in the FED peri-urban value chain is underlined by the fact that many of the insects and diseases described in this document have not been formally recorded in Liberia before.

All figures and diagrams are those of the author and no permissions are needed for reproducing these elsewhere though the source must be acknowledged. The organization of each section is a work in progress and the interested reader will note inconsistencies from section to section. All the photographs were taken by the author during the course of work on FED related business.

A major point to make is that a publication such as this one can only carry a small fraction of the information that is already available on the internet so the document is really just a starting point for internet searches. A particularly important source is that of the Infonet-Biovision which has a vast amount on information on vegetable production in Africa. Any reading on peri-urban crop protection should be done in conjunction with Infonet Biovision website and other sources, some such as the IITA in West Africa.

In the specific context of FED there are two other documents complementary to this one – for pest scouting and chemical/bio-rational crop protection. The first step is the correct identification of living organisms on the crop and what they are doing there – a specific purpose of this document. Some are harmful, but the vast majority are not, or are indeed, actively helping to keep crop feeding organisms under control. Should a crop pest be present it is often the case that they are present at levels that are not economic to control. Therefore it is necessary to put their present in the context of beneficial organisms over time. Any crop protection activity requires systematic scouting over time. Only if it is demonstrated that a pest has got out of control should agricultural remedies be used and even then only those that are soft on beneficial species. A scouting document has been prepared as well as a set of tables for guidance on the use of agricultural remedies.