Global Action for Fall Armyworm Control

Regional workshop highlights effective IPM tactics for FAW control

20 September 2022

The importance of regional integrated pest management (IPM) packages as part of the Global Action for Fall Armyworm Control (GA), and the value of integrating all resources available through research and extension, were emphasized by Jingyuan Xia, Director of FAO Plant Production and Protection Division (NSP), during a workshop and regional meeting for Africa held in Malawi, held 13 - 14 July 2022.

Participating countries also agreed that following implementation of regional IPM strategies, field evaluations of IPM options would be concluded and demonstrations and training accelerated. 

Xia told the workshop participants that regional coordination, information-sharing across countries, and resource mobilization will all be strengthened. At global level, transfer of seed funding to countries, as well as impact assessments and globally standardized protocols and analyses for IPM trials will be accelerated. 

As part of the event, a field visit to Malawi’s Chitedze Agricultural Research Station - a national demonstration site - was organized and coordinated by Zhijun Chen, FAO Representative in Malawi. During the visit, botanicals that are being used in farmer field school (FFS) validation studies and other national demonstration projects were displayed, and the collection and preparation of extracts was exhibited and explained. 

Key technologies used in national level demonstrations include: botanical pesticides (Tephrosia vogelii, Neorautanenia mitis and Azadirachta indica) and good agricultural practices, such as using quality seeds, balanced fertilization, intercropping, crop mulching and no- or low tillage.

Xia emphasized that the GA, implemented across Africa, the Near East, Asia and the Pacific, has created a functional and effective coordination network across eight geo-zones, each with a demonstration country – one of which is Malawi. He emphasized three conclusions from his visit to the Chitedze research facility: the importance of integration, demonstration, and extension and research. 

During the workshop, two farmers, Chimwemwe Aironi and Florence Nantchengwa, from Malawi’s Phalombe District, said that indigenous methods are very effective, particularly neem, fish soup, T. vogelii and N. mitis. The latter was a strong performer, is locally available, and does not cause negative side effects to farmers and the environment. The farmers said that governments should intensify research in FAW management with farmers as key stakeholders on the frontline in research activities on FAW management.

Wilkinson Makuma of Malawi’s Department of Agriculture and Research said that since the introduction of FAW in Malawi, because farmers could not afford synthetic pesticides, they re-discovered indigenous solutions for FAW management, adapting their past experiences with other pests. Some of this indigenous knowledge was shown to be efficacious and was subsequently evaluated by scientists who upheld that conclusion.

Trust Donga of the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR) explained research into the biology of FAW and work to systematize farmers' practices for the management of the pest.

Chen, during the workshop, outlined future work plans, including mainstreaming of IPM concepts and approaches in a national strategy, with guidelines on how to facilitate the validation, review, approval and registering of local control methods. However, he said government should take on more responsibility because projects alone cannot continuously support this work. Feedback from farmers is also essential and the ultimate objective of demonstrations is to show suitable, proven technologies and approaches for farmers by upscaling their application, he said