Mission + History

IPM Innovation Lab Mission 

The overall mission of the IPM Innovation Lab is to raise the standard of living while creating sustainable development.

The program works to develop and implement a replicable approach to IPM that will help reduce the following:

  • agricultural losses due to pests
  • damage to natural ecosystems including loss of biodiversity
  • pollution and contamination of food and water supplies

By combining expertise from the United States, CGIAR centers, and host country institutions, the goals of the IPM Innovation Lab are to:

  • measurably reduce crop losses due to pests
  • increase farmer income
  • reduce chemical pesticide use
  • reduce residues on export crops
  • improve IPM research, extension, and education program capabilities
  • improve ability to monitor pests
  • increase the ability of women in IPM decision-making and program design

By reaching these goals, the IPM Innovation Lab directly contributes to the strategic objectives of USAID and its partners to advance land resource management practices that provide long-term social, economic, and environmental benefits.

IPM Innovation Lab program objectives relate to research, communication, and education for behavioral change, institutional capacity building, policy and institutional reform, and the development of sustainable, resource-based local enterprises. Specifically, the IPM Innovation Lab pursues:

  • the advancement of IPM science and the development of IPM technologies, information, and systems for sound land resource management.
  • the improvement of IPM communication and education, benefiting IPM practitioners to manage knowledge and enable the widespread adaptation, adoption, and impact of ecologically-based IPM technologies, practices, and systems.
  • capacity building to reform and strengthen policies and local and national institutions that influence pest management.
  • developing and integrating sustainable resource-based, local enterprises into national regional and global markets.

IPM Innovation Lab History 

The Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Integrated Pest Management (IPM IL) has a long and prosperous history. In 1990, USAID requested for the National Research Council to conduct a series of studies on the value of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) in developing countries. The publication of those studies set the wheels in motion for Virginia Tech to be the home of what is now the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Integrated Pest Management. In 1993, beginning as the Integrated Pest Management Collaborative Research Support Program (IPM CRSP), Virginia Tech was generously granted funding by USAID to address health, environment, and economic issues in developing countries through Integrated Pest Management technologies.

To eliminate plant diseases and crop-destroying pests, and to feed the world’s exceeding population while tackling the devastating impact often inflicted by modern agricultural practices, the Innovation Lab implements and continues to develop an assemblage of techniques including but not limited to biological control, biological and environmental monitoring, predictive monitoring, insect mating disruption, host plant resistance, grafting, bio-rational pesticides, soil amendments, and habitat management.

From the first phase in 1993 to the now fifth phase of the Innovation Lab’s archive of work, countless farmers and institutions across the globe have significantly advanced due to the Innovation Lab’s ingenuity. Beyond initiating IPM technologies in nearly thirty countries over a quarter of a century, the value and spread of the education the Innovation Lab contributes to conferences and trainings across the world is immeasurable. Current Director and entomologist Muni Muniappan, too, has been on the heels of discovery of invasive species and crop loss in numerous countries since his induction in 2006, such as his identification and containment of the papaya mealybug in 2008, and the more recent one-of-a-kind modeling generated to monitor the invasion of the tomato leafminer Tuta absoluta, a technology that could help millions across the globe prepare for potential damage to their crops. Working in countries from Albania to Guatemala, Jamaica to Tajikistan, Cambodia to Kenya, and many more, the IPM Innovation Lab’s reach is high, wide, and exponentially growing.

In 2014, USAID officially changed IPM CRSP’s name to the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Integrated Pest Management and it began its next and current phase in seven countries in Asia and East Africa.