HSoA & Rothamsted Event

`Mayor says it with marigolds!'

Local charity shared the spotlight with Rothamsted Research at a public meeting to highlight the ground-breaking ‘push-pull’ technology that is bringing more food to the mouths of hungry communities in Africa.

Photograph (L-R). Prof Achim Doberman - Director Rothamsted Research; Caroline Swanson - HSoA Trustee; Geoff Harrison - Former Mayor of St Albans; Brian Ellis - Town Mayor Cllr; Wendy Howson -HSoA  Trustee; Hefin Rees QC - Patron HSoA; Prof Andrew Mayo - HSoA Chairman; Prof John Pickett - Rothamsted Research (Pictured with marigolds, a well-known eco-friendly way of controlling aphids)


Rothamsted Research and Harpenden Spotlight on Africa transforming lives in Eastern Uganda

More than 100 people gathered at Rothamsted Research on Wednesday 29 July to hear about a unique collaboration between the world-renowned scientific institute and a Harpenden charity that is transforming the lives of farmers in eastern Uganda.

Rothamsted Research and Harpenden Spotlight on Africa, together with Kenya's International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe), have worked to boost crop yields for farmers in Mbale near Uganda's border with Kenya. The area is home to many of Uganda's internally displaced people who have fled there to escape the country's internal conflict. In recent years thousands have been killed by the fighting and many more have seen their livelihoods destroyed. 

The event saw Rothamsted Research's, Professor John Pickett, FRS, CBE explain how a 20 year research programme between Rothamsted and icipe pioneering “push-pull” strategy has helped alleviate the threat of starvation for thousands of farmers in Kenya and neighbouring regions. Dr Andre Sarria, a postdoctoral researcher at Rothamsted, explained how a similar “push-pull” strategy might be used for animal husbandry.

Two crops are planted among the maize - one that drives pests away with its scent and another that attracts the pests and traps them in a glue-like secretion. The farmer who first piloted the scheme of companion planting in the area saw a four-fold increase in his maize crop. So far more than 2,000 local farmers have seen first-hand how the “push-pull” strategy works.

Prof Pickett said: 'Communities around Mbale rely on maize to survive yet cannot afford pesticides to protect their crops. This approach is sustainable, environmentally friendly and above all successful. We are delighted that this is making a difference to some of the poorest people in Africa.'

HSOA chairman Andrew Mayo said: 'We have been working to improve lives in eastern Uganda since 2006 and this is one of the most exciting projects we have been involved with. The money we raise helps provide education and clean water, train health workers and fund projects that give people the means to earn an living. We're proud to be working with Rothamsted on a scheme that so closely supports our ethos of sustainable development.'

Harpenden Town Mayor Councillor Brian Ellis, who was joined by several other councillors at Wednesday's event, added: 'It is remarkable to think that such a difference is being made in Uganda by two Harpenden organisations. Both Rothamsted and HSOA do outstanding work. Together they are a powerful force for good.' 

All guests received marigolds, well known for deterring aphids when planted near roses, as an apt example of companion planting, the pioneering research Professor Pickett explored in his lecture. 

If you would like to learn more about HSOA and the projects it supports, visit www.hsoa.org.uk

To read more about Rothamsted's ground-breaking research visit www.rothamsted.ac.uk 

The press article is available here.