Глобальная платформа фермерских полевых школ

Learning from the Maluwa Farmers in Malawi to beat Fall Armyworm


As the good rains came down, one would expect the arable farmers’ smiles to last a little bit longer but the high infestation of the Fall Armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) has since wiped the smiles from Botswana farmers. The invasion of a deadly pest that has been confirmed to ravages a wide range of species amounting to over 350 species with a strong preference for maize, has not only posed a threat to the country’s food security but also left the farmers in panic mode when it was first identified in 2017.  The immediate response was to resort to different synthetic pesticides which endangered the farmer, environment and consumers.

From the Fall Armyworm Control and Management Project funds availed by the Government of Japan, Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) in Botswana, Botswana Government and CAB International (CABI) jointly embarked on a Fall Armyworm experiential study tour to exchange ideas and experiences with both farmers and other experts in Malawi. Malawi was also hard hit by the fall armyworm in the 2016/17 cropping season thus it’s also running a twin project with Botswana.

In the South Eastern Malawi lies a small village called Maluwa were maize is ploughed in abundance for both subsistence and commercial purposes. With the maize neatly planted and utilising almost every space deemed vacant one would mistakenly think the fields would be a good feed lot for the fall army worm but that is not the case in Maluwa. With the use of botanical pesticides such as Neem (Azadirachta indica), Mphanjovu (Neorautanenia mitis) and Sisal (Agave sisalana), the farmers from the Panthunzi Farmer Field School in Maluwa are conducting monitoring and surveillance and validation studies on FAW sustainable management practices.

“We crush neem, sisal and portions of the tuber of mphanjovu, soak each of them in water overnight and filter them (two handfuls of crushed biomass to two litres of water). The filtrate is then put in plastic bottles with a holed lid and applied directly into the leaf whorls of the maize plants from the seedling stage up to tasseling. After tasseling stage, application is done by directing the pesticide into the leaf sheaths,” explained the Panthunzi Farmer Field School Chairperson, Ms Ruth Kanungwa.

The Panthunzi Farmer Field School added that they strongly believe in the notion, “the greatest crop nutrient is the daily footsteps of the farmer,” thus they scout their fields three times a week in search for either fall armyworm eggs or young larvae. If eggs or larvae is found in more than 20% of the sampled crops, then a botanical pesticide is applied. They also disregarded the use of synthetic pesticides citing that they are not only expensive but also not environmentally friendly.

In representation of Botswana farmers, Moruti Tlhobogang of Borolong farms extended his gratitude to the Panthunzi Farmer Field School for the indigenous knowledge shared. He noted that the Maluwa fields are a true reflection of the fruits bared by Farmer field schools. He added that if Botswana can be as dedicated as the Panthunzi Farmer Field School then surely this will be a giant step towards achieving food security.


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