On the final day of a weed workshop in Ethiopia in December, 2015, the Innovation Lab’s Parthenium project was awarded 100,000 Birr by Haramaya University.
In December, the IPM Innovation Lab hosted a two-day workshop on the biological control of Parthenium in East Africa. On the last day of the trip, while our team was at Haramaya, one of Ethiopia’s oldest universities, for a tour of the biocontrol agents rearing facility, President Chemeda Fininsa surprised the group with the announcement that he was giving a grant from the university for roughly $5,000 to our project to study the biocontrol of Parthenium. The project employs a multi-pronged approach using three host-specific agents to control the invasive species: Zygogramma, a leaf-eating beetle; Listronotus, a stem-boring weevil; and Smicronyx, a seed-eating weevil. This grant from Haramaya represented a vote of support for the work that we are doing, and was a fitting way to end the trip.
In addition, two Israeli weed scientists, Baruch Rubin and Tuvia (Toby) Yaacoby, attended the workshop. They are interested in our work on Parthenium as they too struggle with this weed in Israel. Parthenium invaded the Mediterranean country from the contamination of imported grains used in a fishpond during the late 1970s. Although the fishpond is in the upper Galilee region, Parthenium has now spread to many other areas of the country.
“We are the closest country to Europe that is infested with Parthenium,” Yaacoby said.
It is this collaboration among scientists around the world that will be key in stopping damaging, invasive pests, such as Parthenium.