When we talk about IPM we should understand some basic concepts and assumptions:
- IPM is a process of decision making and farming which is gradually improved with greater ecological knowledge, and observation skills. It is not a “packaged technology” that is “adopted” by farmers.
- IPM skills and concepts are best learned, practiced, and discussed in the field. The field is the classroom. Plants and pests are the training materials. Avoid air-conditioned classrooms and PowerPoint presentations. Go to the farms instead.
- Season-long training courses allow all plant, insect, disease, and weed development processes and management to be observed and validated over time. IPM training must be carried out over all crop stages.
- Local or indigenous knowledge of the environment, varieties, pests, etc. must play a major role during decision making. Farmers must actively participate and share their experiences during training to achieve maximum interest and effectiveness.
- IPM trainers must not lecture, but should facilitate a learning process. Trainers do not convince farmers or give recommendations, but rather provide structured experiences so that farmers can test IPM methods and convince themselves about which are useful and which are not.
- Trainers use methods of working in a respectful manner in groups that often include persons older and more experienced than themselves.
The content of IPM training programs for extension staff and farmers is not limited to only “plant protection methods” (e.g. mechanical, biological, cultural, chemical) but also includes the following:
- Crop development and physiology
- Agronomic methods for a healthy and profitable crop
- Varietal impact on pest management
- Soil fertility management
- Biology of pest insects, diseases, and weeds
- Natural enemies of insects and diseases
- Field observation skills
- Pesticides, including environmental, health and handling issues
- Economic management skills