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Problem With Termites? How Using Plants Offers a Cheap and Sustainable Solution


Termites can cause a lot of damage to crops ⎮ Photo: CC BY 2.0 DEED, Aleksey Gnilenkov on Flickr


What's the issue with termites and how to go about it

As an informed farmer looking to integrate Euphorbia tirucalli, aka pencil euphorbia, into your pest management strategy, you’re likely well aware of the challenges termites pose to your crops. These pests can devastate agricultural productivity, prompting the need for effective and sustainable control methods. Euphorbia tirucalli, known for its termite-repellent properties, offers an eco-friendly alternative to synthetic pesticides, aligning with an agroecology farming ethos.

Euphorbia tirucalli thrives in a range of conditions, but it’s particularly suited to arid and semi-arid climates, making it an excellent choice for regions prone to drought. This plant requires minimal upkeep, prospering in poor soils and with limited water—conditions typical of marginal lands where traditional crops may struggle. 

For optimal termite control, Euphorbia tirucalli should be strategically planted around the perimeters of your fields or agricultural plots. This practice not only helps to deter termites but also contributes to soil conservation and biodiversity. However, it’s important to monitor the growth of Euphorbia tirucalli closely. Although it’s a robust plant, you’ll need to manage its spread to prevent it from competing with your crops for nutrients and moisture. This can involve thinning out the plants or adjusting their placement to ensure they complement rather than hinder your agricultural activities. 

Incorporating Euphorbia tirucalli into your farming practices signifies a shift towards more environmentally conscious pest management. This approach not only addresses the immediate threat of termites but also contributes to the broader goal of sustainable agriculture, enhancing the resilience of your farming ecosystem against pests and environmental stresses.

Step by step guide on how to easily introduce Euphorbia tirucalli on your agricultural land

1. Identify the Affected Areas

Conduct a thorough inspection of your agricultural land to identify areas heavily infested with termites or at high risk of infestation.

2. Source Euphorbia tirucalli Cuttings

Obtain cuttings of Euphorbia tirucalli. Ensure they are healthy and come from a reliable source. This plant is known for its quick spreading and adaptability to harsh conditions.

3. Prepare the Land

Clear the designated planting areas around the perimeters of your agricultural plots. This may involve removing weeds and other debris that could inhibit the growth of Euphorbia tirucalli.

4. Planting Euphorbia Tirucalli

Plant the Euphorbia tirucalli cuttings along the margins of your land or around specific crops you wish to protect. Ensure they are planted at intervals that allow them to form an effective barrier against termites.
At the “Diameter at the Breast Height” (DBH) stage, it’s crucial to manage the growth of Euphorbia to prevent nutrient and moisture competition with crops.

5. Maintenance and Care

While Euphorbia tirucalli is drought-resistant and can thrive in nutrient-poor soils, providing basic care can enhance its growth and efficacy. This includes occasional watering during extremely dry periods and clearing away any competing vegetation.

6. Monitor and Thin as Necessary

As Euphorbia tirucalli grows, monitor its development closely. It may be necessary to thin out the plants to prevent them from competing with each other and to ensure they form a dense barrier that can effectively deter termites.

7. Evaluate the Impact

After a growing season, evaluate the effectiveness of Euphorbia tirucalli in controlling termite populations. Look for signs of reduced termite activity and healthier crops.

Use of Euphorbia tirucalli against termites

Get our three-pager with more instruction and all the background. 

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Medicinal use of Euphorbia tirucalli 

Pencil euphorbia is not only good for chasing termites away. Since you’re taking care of it and give it space on your field, you might as well find out about all the good things you can use it for. The colleagues from TICAH in Nairobi have created an informative video on that.


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About the Organic Farming Africa Blog

Welcome to The Organic Farming Africa Blog, your dedicated source for sustainable farming practices and organic solutions tailored for African farmers. We understand the unique challenges you face – from soil health to water conservation and crop diversity. 


Our blog is designed to address these problems, offering practical, tested strategies and insights to enhance your farming practices sustainably. If you cannot find a solution to a specific issue within our articles, we’re here to help. Please reach out to us at, and we’ll connect you with the answers and support you need. Join us in our journey towards a greener, more sustainable future for African agriculture.

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Help us to educate and spread awareness. If you find Euphorbia tirucalli effective and our article usefull, consider sharing your knowledge and experience with other farmers and agriculturalists. Raising awareness can help promote more sustainable organic pest management practices. Maybe you want to consider writing an article for our Organic Farming Africa Blog and join the multiplier community. To learn about the benefits, contact KCOA.

Pascal Corbé
Author: Pascal Corbé

WORK EXPERIENCE Corbecoms – Communications Consulting, Idstein/Germany Fresenius University of Applied Sciences Learn Development Communications, courses on the Teachable platform Global Donor Platform for Rural Development, Bonn/Eschborn – managed by GIZ Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources, African Union, Nairobi – sponsored by CIM UNAIDS Regional Support Team Eastern & Southern Africa, Johannesburg UNICEF ESARO, Nutrition Section, Nairobi UNICEF Africa, Media Liaison Office, Johannesburg Media Programme Sub-Saharan Africa, Konrad Adenauer Foundation, Johannesburg Democratisation Project South Africa, Konrad Adenauer Foundation, Johannesburg Edelman Public Relations Worldwide, B2B, Frankfurt Trainee and Junior Consultant



One Response

  1. This is a fantastic guide for integrating Euphorbia tirucalli into sustainable farming practices! The step-by-step instructions are clear and practical, making it easy to understand how to protect crops from termites in an eco-friendly way. Euphorbia tirucalli’s adaptability to harsh conditions and minimal maintenance needs make it an excellent choice for enhancing agricultural productivity. Thank you for sharing this valuable information PASCAL!

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