Farmers in the Republic of Benin have few resources to invest in protection of stored maize, and prophylactic pesticide application is often recommended by extension and development agencies. Neither the efficacy nor profitability of such an application in traditional maize storage facilities has been addressed quantitatively. In this study, existing management options for stored maize were evaluated monthly over 6 mo in central and southern Benin with respect to their effects on grain injury and on densities of Prostephanus truncatus (Horn) and Sitophilus zeamais Motschulsky. P. truncatus infested 54% of the experimental stores in the study even though Teretrius nigrescens (Lewis), a natural enemy introduced against P. truncatus, was well established in the region. S. zeamais was the most common pest, found in 85% of the experimental storage facilities. Prophylactically treated maize was, on average, worth more than untreated maize for month 1 through 5 in southern Benin, after taking into account market price, pesticide costs, percentage grain damage and weight loss, but maize storage was not profitable overall. No difference was observed between treatments in central Benin. After 6 mo treated storage facilities were not significantly different from untreated storage facilities in terms of either percentage damage or profit in either region. A rapid scouting plan intended to provide farmers with a means for identifying storage facilities at greatest risk of severe P. truncatus infestation was field validated. Given that unsafe pesticide use is prevalent in Benin, research and extension services should clearly state the limitations to prophylactic treatment and increase the effort to educate farmers on appropriate pesticide use, store monitoring and marketing.
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