Engaging stakeholders through participatory research: farmer innovations in the use of predatory ants for pest management in Papua New Guinea

Sar, Sim. A., King, Christine, van de Fliert, Elske, Opasa, Redley, Atoai, Michael, Appa, Ana and Papaya, Triya (2009). Engaging stakeholders through participatory research: farmer innovations in the use of predatory ants for pest management in Papua New Guinea. In: Innovation Asia Pacific Symposium Papers. Innovation Asia Pacific Symposium, Kathmandu, Nepal, (1-11). 4-7 May, 2009.

Author Sar, Sim. A.
King, Christine
van de Fliert, Elske
Opasa, Redley
Atoai, Michael
Appa, Ana
Papaya, Triya
Title of paper Engaging stakeholders through participatory research: farmer innovations in the use of predatory ants for pest management in Papua New Guinea
Conference name Innovation Asia Pacific Symposium
Conference location Kathmandu, Nepal
Conference dates 4-7 May, 2009
Convener IAPS Secretariat
Proceedings title Innovation Asia Pacific Symposium Papers
Place of Publication Kathmandu, Nepal
Publisher Innovation Asia-Pacific Symposium; Prolinnova
Publication Year 2009
Year available 2010
Sub-type Fully published paper
Open Access Status
Start page 1
End page 11
Total pages 11
Collection year 2011
Language eng
Formatted Abstract/Summary
This paper describes our learning experiences to engage farmers through participatory action research. The current knowledge of participatory research through social learning within the context of agriculture in Papua New Guinea (PNG) is limited. Until this study, no attempt had been made to document aspects of knowing by farmers in PNG. The main objective of this research is to facilitate learning to learn and examines research processes to arrive at collective learning by stakeholders involved.

This paper describes the research process employed to capture farmer realities through a needs and opportunity assessment. Farmers identified insect pests as the major production constraints on sweet potato and taro. Responses elicited from this survey indicated that farmers live with the pest problems. However, identification of solutions and opportunities by farmers showed the beneficial association between ants and crops. This study confirms farmer innovation on the mutualistic association between sweet potato and ants and indigenous knowledge on the ‘makum system’. This is the local name given to taro cultivation on ant hills. The ants have been identified as Pheidole megacephala. Literature searches confirm that this species provides effective control of sweet potato weevil (Cylas formicarius), but that can also be a pest. The mutual association of ants and sweet potato is a recent phenomenon, while the cultivation of taro on ant hills is a traditional pest-management practice. There are no records or documentation of these farmer innovations or research on ant-plant mutualism in PNG.

Farmers also ranked coffee as the main source of livelihood. In contrast, sweet potato is displacing coffee as the main source of household revenue in certain areas, as observed in this study.

We conclude by saying that a participatory farmer-centred research process provides a platform for learning and new ways of knowing.
Subjects E1
0701 Agriculture, Land and Farm Management
8298 Environmentally Sustainable Plant Production
Keyword Participatory research
Social learning
Ecological pest management
Papua New Guinea
Q-Index Code E1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Conference Paper
Collections: School of Agriculture and Food Sciences
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Created: Thu, 22 Apr 2010, 12:44:48 EST by Marie-Louise Moore on behalf of School of Integrative Systems