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A historical review of research on the weaver ant Oecophylla in biological control

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1 Although the weaver ant Oecophylla is the first written record of biological control, dating from 304ad, there have been fewer than 70 scientific publications on this predator as a biological control agent in Asia, from the early 1970s onwards, and fewer than 25 in Africa.

2 Apart from crop-specific ecological and perceptual factors, a historical review shows that political and market forces have also determined the extent to which Oecophylla was incorporated into research and development programmes.

3 In Africa, research on weaver ants in biological control concentrated on export crops, such as coconut and cocoa, whereas, in Asia and Australia, research focused on fruit and nut crops, primarily destined for domestic markets.

4 Increased evidence of pesticide inefficiency under tropical smallholder conditions, changing paradigm shifts in participatory research and a growing scientific interest in local knowledge in the early 1990s opened up new avenues for research on conservation biological control.

5 Lobbying and advocacy have been needed to ensure that Oecophylla was recognized as an effective biological control agent.

6 With an increased market demand for organic produce, holistic approaches such as conservation biological control, particularly the use of Oecophylla, are increasing in importance.

7 Multi-stakeholder strategies for collaborative learning are proposed for a better control of major fruit, nut and timber tree pests in Africa, Asia and Australia.
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Keywords: Africa; Asia; Oecophylla; agricultural research; biological control; cashew; citrus; cocoa; coconut; collaborative learning; local knowledge; mango; predation; timber

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 February 2008

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