Scientists from the Eastern region and South Africa have proposed a collaborative approach to contain the challenges posed by pests and diseases in food production.
Experts working on Integrated Pest and Disease Management packages to address the recent invasion of the Autumn Army Worm (FAW) threat called for the need to develop and scale up appropriate technologies to help farmers to avoid losses.
Scientists at the Plant Health Initiative have been working on green pest control technology to control the spread of fall armyworm, such as combined approaches such as the use of resistant varieties, biopesticides, and related biological control methods that are affordable and environmentally friendly. environment.
Speaking during a workshop on Integrated Pest and Disease Management (IPDM) of maize, Dr. Prasanna Boddupalli, Leader of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) Plant Health Initiative, expressed her fear that previous interventions to control invasive pests have not achieved the desired results due to the high costs and chemicals involved in the exercise.
He said the association envisioned that a combined application of pest control technologies was a good idea because various experts would formulate different control components in the package and provide farmers with a formidable technique for higher yields.
“Countries cannot work in isolation and alliances are needed to come up with different pest control combinations so that hundreds of farmers can benefit,” he said.
Dr. Prasanna pointed out that most of the technologies fall short of expectations because most of the farming communities were not aware of the concept of control and did not have access to the packages at the right time.
“There is still the information access gap when it comes to plant health inputs and innovation and services, which are critical to extending technologies to farmers, especially rural women and marginalized communities,” she said.
As research organizations, Dr. Prassana, who is also Director of the Global Maize Program at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), said the technology needs to be developed, but once it is ready, participation of farmers during the trials was key to successful implementation. .
“In the Eastern and Southern Africa region, we are working with more than 700 farmers in research stations where they test our seeds and we make sure that at least 30 percent of them are women,” she explained.
The regional workshop, Dr. Prasanna noted, was critical as partnerships were essential to identify gaps, engage and also understand priorities and bottlenecks in order to find better solutions to develop and scale Integrated Pest and Disease Management (IPDM).
Godfrey Aseya, breeder and director of research at the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO) in Uganda, said they are working as a region to identify common key pest challenges and also IPDM development.
This, he noted, comes in the context of efforts by each country in the region to validate technologies that address fall armyworm, a key pest in the East African region.
In Africa, the fall armyworm is estimated to cause maize losses of 8 to 20 million tonnes each year and this is due to little knowledge about the pest and ways to manage it.
“We are in the process of identifying varieties that are promising and will soon be released, as well as recommending some chemicals for farmers in combination, such as biopesticides and biocontrol,” he said.
He noted that seeking expertise and practices from different experts will see them package technologies that will address pest control best practices to effectively control fall armyworm through transboundary agroecology.
“We see the light at the end of the tunnel and see that our work shows some promising results and scores in integrated pest management.
However, Aseya noted that farmers are key components of this technology and working with them in the farmer’s field in a participatory way so they can see that is a win.
He added that the team had also integrated indigenous farming practices as a component of pest management through agroecological fall armyworm management, such as early planting, cultural and mechanical control, weed manipulation, and also Push Pull technology.
According to the scientists, a greater commitment will be needed from all states where the IPDM project was implemented to review the results and policy regulations related to pest and disease management in a participatory approach.
Workshop participants came from national agricultural research institutions, plant protection organizations and also from international centers in Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi.
By Wangari Ndirangu