Small farmers’ perceptions of coffee Coffea arabica L. herbivores and their natural enemies, how those perceptions relate to field infestation levels, and pest management practices being implemented by members from two organic and nonorganic coffee grower organizations in the Soconusco region, southeastern Mexico, were analyzed through an interview survey, diagnostic workshops, and field sampling. The terms pest, disease, and damage were commonly used as synonyms. The major phytophagous species, as perceived by the interviewees, were Hypothenemus hampei (Ferrari), and to a lesser extent the fungi Corticium koleroga Cooke (Höhnel) and Hemileia vastatrix Berkeley & Broome. Among the nonorganic farmers, other nonpest-related constraints were regarded as more important. Awareness of the existence of natural enemies was low, despite more organic farmers have used the ectoparasitoid bethylid Cephalonomia stephanoderis Betrem against H. hampei. Labor supplied by household members was most frequent for pest control; only organic farmers exchanged labor for this purpose. The levels of infestation by H. hampei, Leucoptera coffeella Guérin-Méneville, and C. koleroga were lower within the organic coffee stands. However, a low effectiveness for pest control was commonly perceived, probably due to a feeling, among the organic farmers, of a low impact of their pest management extension service, whereas a lack of motivation was prevalent among the nonorganic farmers, shown by a concern with their low coffee yields and the emigration of youth. The importance of understanding farmers’ perceptions and knowledge of pests and their natural enemies and the need for participatory pest management approaches, are discussed.
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Vol. 97 • No. 5