The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Bureau for Food Security (BFS) supports, “targeted, applied research” as an ingredient of the Feed the Future food security program to address global hunger, food and nutritional security. The Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research on Integrated Pest Management (hereafter referred to as the IPM Innovation Lab) is one of ten Feed the Future Innovation Labs supported by USAID to accomplish the above goal.
The management entity (ME) of the IPM Innovation Lab is Virginia Tech University since 1993. Currently, the IPM Innovation Lab partners with 11 U.S. universities in 17 countries of which 12 are Feed the Future countries. In the early years, the IPM Innovation Lab worked with 22 U.S. universities in 33 countries and 51 host country institutions and concentrated its efforts on “institutionalization”; currently its effort is on “regionalization and globalization.” The IPM Innovation Lab is committed to improving incomes and ensuring food and nutritional security of smallholder farmers through economically effective, environmentally safe and eco-system friendly technology to prevent losses due to pests and diseases. The IPM Innovation Lab includes creative research, effective training and meaningful information exchange on horticultural and other food crops. Following the identification of a problem, technologies are developed which are validated in specific eco-systems and then disseminated through trained personnel. Currently the IPM Innovation Lab has 11 long-term projects, 6 of which are regional and focus on high value vegetable and fruit crops and 5 of which are cross-cutting projects involving viruses, gender, diagnostics, invasive species and impact assessment. Country specific multi-component IPM packages for various high value vegetable and fruit crops have been specifically tailored for each of the 17 countries. The successful IPM packages are provided to national, regional and global stakeholders for scaling up. The IPM Innovation Lab has some degree of flexibility to address new/emerging pests and diseases that can be a threat to global food production. IPM Innovation Lab accomplishments include mealy bug control in papaya in Asia (India), which is estimated to save $100 million per year.
The IPM Innovation Lab will come to the end of its second and last five-year phase on September 30, 2014. It cannot be extended in its current form. A new Innovation Lab will be created in its place. An electronic public forum was organized, from June 4-7, 2013, on the development of a new IPM Innovation Lab. The objective of the e-forum was to solicit ideas on the research focus and the human and institutional capacity development (HICD) emphasis of the new IPM Innovation Lab. The forum examined the adaptive and strategic agricultural research, training and extension capacity of the Title XII agricultural colleges and universities in the U.S. and how they will affect the long-term sustainability and impact, specifically in the Feed the Future countries. The resulting output from the e-forum will form the basis for the design of the new Innovation Lab taking into consideration the most current and priority research and HICD constraints in IPM.