Smallscale farmers battle against the armyworm to be boosted by FAO guide
As Namibia and other African countries face a potential war against the armyworm, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) launched, a comprehensive guide on the integrated pest management of the armyworm on maize.
Launched last week in Rome, the guide was developed with a host of partners: International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE), Lancaster University, Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI), Empresa Brasileira de Pesquisa Agropecuária (EMBRAPA), Colegio de la Frontera Sur (ECOSUR) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
According to the FAO’s website, the guide will help smallholder farmers and frontline agricultural staff to manage the spread, of the Fall Armyworm (FAW) more effectively amidst fears that FAW may push more people into hunger.
Central and Southern Africa are particularly on high alert, as the main maize growing season is currently underway in these regions.
Based on a learning-by-doing approach and designed for Farmers Field Schools, the guide is packed with hands-on advice. It provides support for a correct identification of this new foe for African farmers, and offers options to manage it in an integrated, ecological and sustainable way.
“We know that farmer education and community action are critical in best managing FAW, and curbing its spread as much as possible,” said Maria Helena Semedo, FAO Deputy Director-General.
“The guide builds on the experiences of farmers and researchers from the Americas who have been dealing with the pest for centuries as well on new technology and lessons learnt so far in Africa. It gives African farmers and frontline agricultural workers the practical advice they need to tackle FAW head-on,” added Semedo.
FAO also calls on those African countries likely to be affected soon, given the current distribution of FAW in Africa, to get prepared by: re-enforcing early warning systems at community level, raising awareness among farmers, and using available materials, such as the guide.
By early 2018, only 10 (mostly in the north of the continent) out of the 54 African states and territories have not reported infestations by the invasive pest.