The Project - The Evaluation - Overall Conclusion & Success Rating - The Main Findings - Lessons - Further Information
Since the late 1960s the Natural Resources Institute (NRI) of the ODA has
developed expertise in the identification, synthesis and field implementation
of pheromone chemicals for insect control and monitoring programmes.
Pheromones are chemicals produced by one organism which influence the
behaviour of other members of the same species, for example by attracting
mates. Pheromone research has never constituted a formal "programme" within
ODA or the NRI. The evaluation of a broad group of projects in which
pheromones were at different stages of development and were used for different
aspects of insect management, and which lacked a formal overall purpose,
presents some problems. Nevertheless, it was possible to design,
retrospectively, a logical framework with an overall hierarchy of objectives
(i.e. Goal, Purpose, and Outputs) for this pheromone research. The objectives
of individual projects included in this review can be placed at various points
within this hierarchy.
The Purpose of ODA-funded pheromone research has been identified as the
implementation of Integrated Pest Panagement (IPM) strategies incorporating
pheromone technologies in developing countries. To support this Purpose, the
evaluation concludes that the NRI was responsible for Outputs resulting in the
development of pheromone-based monitoring and control systems for insect pests
and an understanding of social and institutional factors affecting the
adoption and implementation of pheromone-based technologies. Activities
related to these Outputs included:
- identification, synthesis and formulation of specific pheromones;
- design, demonstration and analysis of population monitoring and control
techniques which reduce environmental damage and increase yield and crop
quality by reducing insect damage;
- commercial collaboration, training and promotion of pheromones;
- investigation of social and institutional factors affecting the uptake of
The ODA provided £3.834m during the evaluation period (1981-1995),
through a combination of R&D and TC funding, for 37 pheromone-related
projects. A further £384,000 of NRI pheromone research was funded in six
commercially sponsored pheromone contracts. Pheromone research related to
cotton accounts for almost half the expenditure, while most of the rest covers
rice; millet and other important cereals. Approximately half the expenditure
was on projects with beneficiaries in Africa, and just over 40% was in Asia.
The evaluation was conducted by Dr John Mumford of Imperial College of
Science, Technology and Medicine (entomologist, team leader), Mr Simon
Henderson of NRI (economist), Dr Keith Harrap of Science Connections Ltd
(research management specialist) and Dr Martin Birley of Liverpool University
(health impact specialist) during April-July 1995. The evaluators held a
series of group and individual interviews and workshops with scientists and
economists involved in the projects at the NRI, made field visits to three
major project sites in Egypt, Pakistan and India, and met other parties
(commercial and academic) in Britain. Project summaries and files were
available for inspection.
Overall Conclusion & Success Rating
The tasks of selecting and marking Project Performance Criteria are made
difficult by the number of projects included in the review, the combination of
technically-driven research and development projects and implementation
projects (with differing Performance Criteria), and the fact that research and
implementation objectives have changed over time. Thus, the relative
importance attached to either individual projects or specific achievements
involves a rather subjective judgement.
Over the period evaluated, pheromones have developed from a relatively novel
technology with limited implementation to a significant component of IPM
Research carried out by the NRI has contributed directly to the development of
several important pheromone-based pest management systems: monitoring systems
in Africa (African armyworm, larger grain borer, Egyptian cotton pest complex)
and Asia (American bollworm); a mass trapping system in Malaysia (cocoa pod
borer); and a mating-disruption (control) programme for pink bollworm which is
currently used over almost the entire Egyptian cotton crop.
As pheromone technology has developed the nature of the Technical Success
criteria has evolved. while the identification and optimisation of pheromones
represented significant technical success early on, these enter the overall
log-frame at only the Activity level, implying less significance than the
development (Output) and ultimate implementation (Purpose) of a monitoring or
control system in which the pheromones are actually used. This conclusion is
considered to be justified by the long period of support provided by ODA (more
than a decade).
The evaluation concluded that pheromone research has been Partially
Successful (B). Considerable technical success has been achieved in the
identification, synthesis and field demonstration of new pheromones. Many of
the projects successfully developed component technologies for IPM, and
several examples of successful implementation have been achieved. There have
been significant shortcomings in management which did not limit the
fundamental chemical and ecological elements of pheromone research but
certainly affected the potential implementation of pheromones and reduced the
overall cost-effectiveness of the pheromone research programme. Neither
project appraisal nor project management placed sufficient emphasis on the
social and institutional output essential for implementation. Impact could
have been significantly greater if project objectives and design had given
greater attention to implementation of the technologies. This is demonstrated
in the separate ratings in the Evaluation Success table for the major
programme on cotton in Egypt (approximately 25% of the entire pheromone
The Main Findings
- Since the External Technical Review of 1981, NRI research, helped to transform
pheromone technologies from an interesting idea to an accepted component of
many IPM programmes throughout the world in the mid-1990s. Several major
chemical companies and some specialised firms continue to be involved in
pheromone production but some important agrochemical firms have not maintained
their early interest
- Successful use of pheromones in control programmes has mainly occurred where
crops can be organised into blocks for area-wide treatment by government or
farmer cooperative organisations, as predicted in the 1981 Review.
- Activities in pheromone research involve a wide range of disciplines and range
from chemical identification through field testing to socio-economic studies.
The NRI identified and synthesised 25 insect pheromones, particularly from
Lepidoptera and Coleoptera, during the evaluation period.
- The evaluators found that procedures for laboratory chemistry and field
optimisation were very good, resulting in the efficient identification and
production of many specific insect pheromones. Most of the pheromones have
been developed to the stage of demonstrating the capability to monitor insects
or to modify their behaviour in the field in a way that could lead to control.
In many cases, experimental design has been determined by practical
considerations - such as the availability of field sites, funding and
collaborators - rather than on the basis of ideal scientific judgement.
- The institutional capability of cooperating institutions in each country in
which major projects have been undertaken has been raised and NRI staff have
made a good and lasting impression on their collaborators.
- Outputs of pheromone research include both pest monitoring and pest control
systems. Pheromones and trapping techniques for practical monitoring have been
developed in 18 locations. Control using pheromones has also been practically
demonstrated with substantial economic returns and environmental benefits for
pink bollworm on cotton in Egypt, and, on a smaller scale, for several other
pests in other countries.
- The components of pest monitoring systems have been well designed, but the
actual use of the data to improve pest control practices has often fallen
short of the potential.
- The design of pest control systems has been more difficult, partly because
pheromones generally need to be used over fairly large areas (often tens or
hundreds of hectares) to be effective. The transition from an individual
insecticide based control system to an area-wide system involving pheromones
is a radical change in crop protection.
- In some cases, pheromone-based systems have evolved through a series of
empirical trials despite a lack either of a long-term funding commitment or of
a clearly perceived market. Most effort has been technically based. Some major
objectives (particularly related to the social and institutional output) have
not been well addressed. Consideration of the factors influencing the
implementation of the technologies has been lacking, sometimes resulting in a
failure to stop unpromising research at an early stage.
- Criteria by which potential pheromone candidates should be judged can be
defined. The most significant target crops for pest control by pheromones are
crops of high national or private value on which large amounts of pesticides
are used. Changing pest control practices in such situations is difficult
unless there is widespread dissatisfaction with current control methods,
particularly pesticides, and confidence in the expected technical performance
of pheromones. while some further understanding of social and institutional
factors affecting adoption and implementation of pheromone technologies has
been achieved, socio-economic and scientific inputs have not been effectively
- Even where research has not lead to immediate uptake, technical knowledge
about individual pheromones increases the potential for environmentally
acceptable integrated pest management Systems.
- The major impact of pheromones used for either control or monitoring is a
reduction in pesticide use. The lack of any environmental baseline data
prevents any definitive statement on the overall health impacts but it is
clear that significant health problems exist with the use of insecticides in
cotton. The substitution of pheromones for large quantities of insecticides is
undoubtedly advantageous. Cost savings are a less important benefit. The
importance of environment/health impacts - and even of pest damage and
control - has not been reflected in project monitoring or baseline studies.
- A major threat to the sustainability of the pheromone-based control system in
Egypt is the liberalisation of the cotton sector. The end to the centralised
control of cotton poses a significant risk that pheromone-based control will
- When favourable ecological and institutional conditions for pheromone use
exist, as for cotton in Egypt, the economic and environmental benefits from
pheromone control can be very much greater than the costs. when these
conditions do not exist, as for cotton in Pakistan, no implementation will
occur, despite extensive technical inputs.
- The potential importance of positive environmental/health impacts needs to be
reflected in monitoring and evaluation systems so that the broad benefits of
pheromone use can be demonstrated and can offset, in part, any perceived risks
associated with its adoption. Baseline data on the environmental effects of
insecticides should be incorporated at an early stage into all projects in
which it is expected that pheromones will reduce insecticide use.
- Environmental benefits, rather than economic savings, are likely to be the
driving force in pheromone adoption. Strong environmental policies rely on the
availability of practical, effective and environmentally-acceptable
technologies to meet policy objectives. Awareness of pheromones as
environmentally desirable components of IPM systems increases the
acceptability and practicality of such policies.
- Changing pest control practices for significant target crops may be difficult.
Pheromone control is a novel technology that may initially, at least, be
perceived to increase risks to crop security while reducing environmental
risks. Such a technology will require special support at policy level in order
to achieve acceptance and commercial adoption.
- Changing from an individual insecticide based control system to an area wide
system involving pheromones is a radical change. To ensure effective and
efficient development, an early commitment to long-term implementation based
on a multi-stage plan combining chemical and ecological research, clearly
assessed stakeholder demand and appropriate institutional conditions for
implementation is essential. In cases where circumstances are not likely to
allow implementation to be successful, work should be stopped at an early
- To implement pheromone-based control systems substantial resources must be
employed to identify and enable the social and institutional conditions
appropriate to pheromone use, as well as to develop the specific pheromones,
dispensers and formulations. Technical research must respond to socio-economic
findings related to problem identification and mechanisms for adoption and
implementation. In the case of pest monitoring the way in which monitoring
information will be used must be incorporated into the design of monitoring
- To achieve acceptable control pheromones usually need to be used over areas
larger than individual farms. This poses problems in experimental design which
can impede conclusive experimental results, make it difficult to establish
confidence in the technical success of pheromones and can delay adoption of
the technology. The complexity and cost of organising large blocks must be
included in the technical design.