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A NEW predatory mite has proved to
be a boon for Africa's cassava (a
root crop) fields. Recently, scientists
from the International Institute of
Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in lbadan,
Nigeria, announced that the battle
against the green spider mite, a cassava-destroying pest, had been won two years
after a predator mite, Typhlodromalus
aripo, was introduced in 12 countries of
west and central Africa. T aripo can
reduce populations of green spider
mites by as much as 90 per cent and
avoids the use of pesticides.
The green spider mite, Monony-chellus tanajoa, has been for the past
20 years eating its way through Africa's
cassava crop, a staple food for 200 million people. A tanajoa had
come to Africa in the 1970s from South
America, which is also the original
home of cassava. In the absence of a
natural predator, the mite had destroyed up to a third of the cassava crops
in the continent. After searching for
more than a decade, Steve Yaninek of
the 1ITA found a solution in T aripo
in Brazil. Yaninek is now marketing
cassava tips infested with T aripo to
countries across Africa.