African Journal of
Agricultural Research

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Agric. Res.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1991-637X
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJAR
  • Start Year: 2006
  • Published Articles: 5810

Full Length Research Paper

The impact of animals on crop yields in Malawian rural villages

Jessica Weyell
  • Jessica Weyell
  • Centre for Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Engineering and Environment, University of Southampton, SO17 1BJ, United Kingdom.
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Felix Eigenbrod
  • Felix Eigenbrod
  • Centre for Biological Sciences, Faculty of Natural and Environmental Sciences, University of Southampton, SO17 1BJ, United Kingdom.
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Malcolm Hudson
  • Malcolm Hudson
  • Centre for Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Engineering and Environment, University of Southampton, SO17 1BJ, United Kingdom.
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Dalitso Kafumbata
  • Dalitso Kafumbata
  • Lead Southern and Eastern Africa, Chancellor College, University of Malawi, Zomba, Malawi.
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Mathews Tsirizeni
  • Mathews Tsirizeni
  • Lead Southern and Eastern Africa, Chancellor College, University of Malawi, Zomba, Malawi.
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Sosten Chiotha
  • Sosten Chiotha
  • Lead Southern and Eastern Africa, Chancellor College, University of Malawi, Zomba, Malawi.
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Guy Poppy
  • Guy Poppy
  • Centre for Biological Sciences, Faculty of Natural and Environmental Sciences, University of Southampton, SO17 1BJ, United Kingdom.
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Simon Willcock
  • Simon Willcock
  • Centre for Biological Sciences, Faculty of Natural and Environmental Sciences, University of Southampton, SO17 1BJ, United Kingdom.
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  •  Received: 02 July 2015
  •  Accepted: 21 July 2015
  •  Published: 30 July 2015

Abstract

It is essential that the net effect of biodiversity on crop yields is determined; particularly in developing nations, where both increasing food security and reducing biodiversity losses are of high importance. This study modelled the abundance of pests, pollinators and pest-control animals and determined their impact on crop yield within agroecosystems in four rural villages in Malawi. Data on the habitat area, survivorship, fecundity, birthing month and effect on crop yield for 14 animal functional groups were collated through a focused meta-analysis. Using this data, models were created to determine the abundance of each functional group using land cover as the sole input variable; with Participatory Rural Appraisals (PRA) utilised to validate the model prediction. Bees, birds and insects always improved crop yield, whereas monkeys, rodents and large herbivores always result in losses. Three out of four villages experienced a net benefit to crop yield from the animal biodiversity present. We conclude that models derived from meta-analyses appear useful for broadly predicting the local-scale abundance of functional groups and their qualitative impact on crop yield. However, long-term field observations should be conducted to ensure that the PRA values in this study correlate with direct observation.

 

Key words: Africa, Malawi, Zomba, agriculture, pest, pest control, pollination, pollinator.