A review on options for management of cowpea pests: experiences from Uganda.
More than 100 field pests of cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) can be found in most of the crop production agroecologies in Africa, but four of these, aphids (Aphis craccivora), flower thrips (Megalurothrips sjostedti), the legume pod borer (Maruca vitrata) and pod sucking bugs (Clavigralla sp.), are commonly encountered and are of economic importance in Uganda. The diverse cowpea pest complex dictates that a single control strategy is unlikely to produce satisfactory control. Earlier field studies done in eastern and northern parts of Uganda demonstrated that close spacing (30 × 20 cm) effectively reduces aphid infestation (early season pest) but seems to promote thrips, legume pod borers and pod bugs infestation. The other option for management of early season pests and nematodes is seed dressing, especially with carbofuran (Furadan 5G). Late season pests are more effectively controlled by the use of foliar sprays, the type of pesticide depending on the pest profile. Intercropping also offers remedial control, but the crop combination must consider the pest profile, cowpea/sorghum intercrop being effective against aphids and thrips, and cowpea/greengram against legume pod borers and pod sucking bugs. Selected combinations of agronomic, chemical and cultural control measures (Integrated Pest Management), especially when combined with early planting, offer better management options than the use of sole treatments. The success of these packages is highly dependent on the degree and level of farmer involvement and to what extent they are tailored to meet his/her production goals.