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Caesalpinioid woodlands of southern Africa: optimising the indigenous use of pesticidal plants (Southern African Pesticidal Plants project – SAPP) - COMPLETED 2009)

Through farmer surveys this project identified the most popular plant species used for pest control by poor farmers in Southern Africa, validated their activity in laboratory and field trials and developed protocols for those tree species most threatened by over harvesting.
Pesticidal plants being propagated


Pesticidal plants have been used by African farmers for generations and are of particular importance to poor, small-scale farmers for effective, low-cost pest control on field crops, stored products and livestock. However, their use can have associated health risks and over-harvesting threatens the diversity of habitats, particularly Caesalpinioid woodland. A better scientific understanding of how these plants work and where they grow optimises their sustainable use in Southern Africa.

The aim of this project was to increase the wealth of small-scale farmers through sustainable pesticidal plant use by enhancing knowledge about distribution and habitats, application techniques, harvesting, cultivation and health and safety. The project strengthened market potential for pesticidal plants in compliance with the Convention on Biological Diversity while promoting the conservation of habitat diversity across the region. Guidelines were drawn up for policies that lead to the widespread use of pesticidal plants.

The specific objectives of this project were to strengthen the generation of appropriate, cost effective and environmentally sustainable agricultural technologies using local plant materials for pest management in small-scale farming across the region through the following: 

  • the development and validation of plant based pesticides for use in stored grain, vegetable production and livestock
  • the establishment of sustainable production of and supply of these pesticides to farmers
  • the training of SADC scientists in each country in aspects of development,  promotion and quality control of the plant based pesticides.

Project Duration: 2007-2009 

Project partners and collaborators


Dr Steve Belmain, Natural Resources Institute, University of Greenwich


Stephen Nyirenda, Dept. Agricultural Research Services, Malawi.
John Kamanula, Mzuzu University


Dr Brighton Mvumi, University of Zimbabwe.