A high density of epigeal termite mounds is common in the Central Rift Valley of Ethiopia (CRVE). A survey of farmers’ perceptions of termites was conducted in the CRVE using semi-structured questionnaires and in-depth interviews with farmers for documenting their knowledge about termites, identification of termite types, crops and crop growth stage susceptible to termites, perception of the role of termites, estimate of potential yield loss to the major crops, and termite management practices in field crops among others. A field survey was also conducted on maize and haricot beans on farmers’ fields to assess termite damage. Farmers were knowledgeable about the existence of termites. However, they could not identify different types of termite (species). Farmers mentioned the existence of 19 different pre-harvest crop pests and 69% of them mentioned that termites are among the most important pests in their farming system after porcupine. Farmers considered termites as of no benefit to human nutrition and mound soil as fertilizer, but they acknowledged termites for the mound soil used in house construction. Maize and haricot beans were the major crops grown in the area and most of the farmers (87%) considered the crops as the most susceptible to termite damage and they estimated potential pre-harvest yield loss as 18.02 ± 2.67 and 10.58 ± 1.91 kg (mean ± SE) per hectare, respectively. Farmers complained about termite mounds as they reduce farmlands and stand as obstacle for ox cultivation. All the farmers reported that damage to the crops occurs from maturity stage onwards and this was also confirmed in the field survey. Lodging of maize plants recorded in the surveyed fields ranged between 3 and 33% which was mainly due to Macrotermes and Microtermes. Although the majority of farmers considered termites as pests, only few (9%) of them managed termites using cultural control practices such as removing lodged maize and prompt harvesting. The study has shown that farmers viewed termites as pests of crops at maturity stage.
Key words: Central Rift Valley, knowledge, maize, perception, termite, yield loss.
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