Sustainably managing the fall armyworm in Africa through farmer field schools
In 2017, FAO was at the forefront of supporting countries to tackle the fall armyworm, to reduce the risk of food insecurity among millions of Africans who depend on maize and other crops for their livelihoods. FAO’s technical expertise and ability to leverage its broad technical networks helped guide the response as the pest spread to new areas across the continent. To control the fall armyworm, farmers need to understand how to identify it and its biology and ecology. They need to monitor it and determine the risk level in the context of their production systems and take appropriate preventive and responsive actions, based on their assessments.
Through South-South Cooperation, FAO gathered experts from around the world – especially from the Americas, where both maize and the fall armyworm are native. Advice and recommendations from technical experts – including researchers and farmer field school master trainers – informed the development of materials for the benefit of smallholder farming families. FAO designed curricula for its farmer field schools and training guides on integrated pest management for the fall armyworm on maize in Africa. FAO trained master trainers across Africa, setting the scene to roll out thousands of farmer field schools in 2018 – with the ultimate goal of reaching farmers in even the most remote areas. FAO also developed a technical guide for the fall armyworm response.
FAO worked with countries to determine recommendations for farmers’ actions, including the use of effective safe pesticides, particularly biopesticides, that pose little risk to health and the environment. To enhance monitoring of the pest at the community level, FAO developed simple mobile apps for farmers’ use.