CABI has teamed-up with Swiss biological control producers ÉLÉPHANT VERT to lead a fresh fight against the global scourge of crop-destroying locusts and grasshoppers with a safe and environment friendly product – Green Muscle™.
Locusts and grasshoppers regularly decimate crops in many parts of Africa and Asia with locusts, in particular, responsible for invading in swarms of millions – leaving behind ravaged fields and putting livelihoods and food security at severe risk.
For example, Madagascar has been facing a plague of the Malagasy Migratory Locust since 2012 with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) stepping in to assess the impact on crops and pastures in order to inform all stakeholders and enable them to undertake effective measures to manage the pests.
Green Muscle™ was made possible thanks to an internationally-funded programme launched to find an effective biological control for the pests. This led to the development of the product based on the most promising biological control agent, a fungus called Metarhizium acridumduring the 1990s. While the Metarhizium genus can be used to kill a wide range of insects, Green Muscle™ is based on a specific isolate which only attacks locusts and grasshoppers, effectively stopping them in their tracks.
Dr Dick Shaw, CABI’s Country Director UK, said, “Our partnership with ÉLÉPHANT VERT is an exciting new chapter in the story of Green Muscle™ which has already proven its ability to fight locusts and grasshoppers across Africa, as long ago as 2009, for example, the FAO reported that the product had effectively treated 10,000 hectares of Red Locust-infested land in Tanzania which otherwise would have caused a full-blown invasion and threatened the food crops of 15 million people.”
The partnership sees CABI licensing Green Muscle™ to ÉLÉPHANT VERT and providing the starter cultures from its liquid nitrogen stores. ÉLÉPHANT VERT will use its extensive workforce and facilities to mass produce and market the product across Africa and parts of Asia.
Vincent Thieyre, Director of Product Development and Partnerships at ÉLÉPHANT VERT, said, “We are delighted to be working alongside CABI, who share our passion to promote environment friendly biological solutions, to manage pests such as locusts and grasshoppers which threaten economic stability and global food security. Together we have the technical know-how and production capacity to bring to a wider market an effective product which can make a real difference, as part of an integrated pest management approach, to tackle these and other invasive species.”
CABI’s research has confirmed that Green Muscle™ is effective against various species including Desert locust (Schistocerca gregaria), Red locust (Nomadacris septemfasciata), Brown locusts (Locustana pardalina), Sahelian tree locusts (Anacridium melanorhodon), Variegated grasshopper (Zonocerus variegatus), Senegalese grasshopper (Oedaleus senegalensis), African rice grasshoppers (Hieroglyphus daganensis) and Sahelian grasshoppers.