Strengthening control and preparedness capacities to manage armyworm outbreaks in Lesotho

Strengthening control and preparedness capacities to manage armyworm outbreaks in Lesotho

10/09/2013

In response to the armyworm outbreak, which affected Lesotho in January and February 2013, the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security (MAFS) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) worked hand-in-hand to strengthen control and preparedness capacities to manage more effectively this emerging risk for Lesotho.

The Government of the Kingdom of Lesotho and FAO’s response plan received financial support from the European Commission Directorate-General for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO). Eight districts of Lesotho, including lowlands and Senqu Valley areas, registered nearly 35 000 ha affected in different degrees, with 90 percent of the affected areas concentrated around Maseru, Berea, Leribe and Mafeteng.

ECHO’s generous support of USD 330 000 will allow MAFS and FAO to conduct training for extension staff and communities in the functioning of an early warning system (EWS) to detect the presence of armyworms before they multiply to devastating numbers, thereby limiting their impact and the amount of chemicals needed to control them in any future potential outbreak. Training for 250 participants will be conducted by technical staff from MAFS during the months of September and October 2013, and will commence on 10 September 2013.

The Lesotho Meteorological Services is collaborating in the implementation of the EWS, since rain patterns are a major factor in the reproduction of armyworm. ECHO funding will also provide the extension network with quality equipment, including over 300 sprayers, 400 personal protective equipment kits, 1 000 litres of chemicals, 100 pheromone traps and 100 rain gauges, complementing both control and EWS activities.