Towards a Collaborative Research: A Case Study on Linking Science to Farmers’ Perceptions and Knowledge on Arabica Coffee Pests and Diseases and Its Management

Liebig, T; Jassogne, L; Rahn, E; Läderach, P; Hans-Poehling, M; Kucel, P; Van Asten, P; Avelino, J

PLoS ONE 11(8): e0159392


The scientific community has recognized the importance of integrating farmer’s perceptions and knowledge (FPK) for the development of sustainable pest and disease management strategies. However, the knowledge gap between indigenous and scientific knowledge still contributes to misidentification of plant health constraints and poor adoption of management solutions. This is particularly the case in the context of smallholder farming in developing countries. In this paper, we present a case study on coffee production in Uganda, a sector depending mostly on smallholder farming facing a simultaneous and increasing number of socio-ecological pressures. The objectives of this study were (i) to examine and relate FPK on Arabica Coffee Pests and Diseases (CPaD) to altitude and the vegetation structure of the production systems; (ii) to contrast results with perceptions from experts and (iii) to compare results with field observations, in order to identify constraints for improving the information flow between scientists and farmers. Data were acquired by means of interviews and workshops. One hundred and fifty farmer households managing coffee either at sun exposure, under shade trees or inter-cropped with bananas and spread across an altitudinal gradient were selected. Field sampling of the two most important CPaD was conducted on a subset of 34 plots. The study revealed the following findings: (i) Perceptions on CPaD with respect to their distribution across altitudes and perceived impact are partially concordant among farmers, experts and field observations (ii) There are discrepancies among farmers and experts regarding management practices and the development of CPaD issues of the previous years. (iii) Field observations comparing CPaD in different altitudes and production systems indicate ambiguity of the role of shade trees. According to the locality-specific variability in CPaD pressure as well as in FPK, the importance of developing spatially variable and relevant CPaD control practices is proposed.

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