Программа глобальных действий по борьбе с совкой

First Arabic-language book for integrated sustainable management of fall armyworm offers assistance for mitigation, food security

26 November 2021

The publication of the first Arabic-language book on sustainable management of fall armyworm (FAW) is filling a serious gap in existing information concerning best practices to manage and control the voracious insect pest that is spreading rapidly around the globe.

The publication “Fall Armyworm: Invasive pest threatening crops and food security” provides advice, assistance, and proposals for mitigating FAW spread and minimizing crop losses. Produced by FAO’s Regional Office for the Near East and North Africa (RNE) and the FAW Secretariat, the book clarifies many of the scientific and practical aspects of the nature of this pest, describes best management approaches, as well as experiences, success stories, and efforts made to combat FAW.

Copies have been circulating quickly, reaching more than 700 people in Arab-speaking countries within a few days of its release, according to authors Ibrahim Jboory, head of the Arab Society for Plant Protection (ASPP), Thaer Yaseen, Plant Protection Officer, RNE, and Maged Elkahky, Agriculture Officer at Plant Production and Protection Division (NSP) in FAO headquarters in Rome. The book also drew more than 500 “likes” and “shares” on Facebook within the first week of release.

Hundreds of more copies have been ordered by Arabic speakers working in plant protection and agriculture in general, as well as farmer field school (FFS) facilitators and academics interested in applying its guidance, said Jboory.

“I attended three farmer field schools in Jordan in late October, where the participants talked about some trials and recommendations cited from the book. I was delighted that FAO messages were appropriately delivered,” said Jboory.

The book is aimed at stakeholders interested in pest management – from farmers to decision-makers, policy-makers, researchers, academics, and extension agents, said Elkahky. They can now have the most accurate, up-to-date information on the insect pest in the Arabic language.

“This will help to make life easier for Arabic stakeholders by breaking linguistic barriers to facilitate the access to the knowledge and innovation. The strategy in NENA region is to focus on green, sustainable and simple solutions to control FAW,” said Yaseen. The damage percentage attributed to FAW in the region is more than 40 percent, he added.

The pest will be better understood through this publication, which will guide stakeholders to manage FAW by adopting an integrated pest management (IPM) approach, said Elkahky.

“There was always a gap in available information on FAW in Arabic,” said Elkahky. “This book documents and archives most of that information on FAW, summarized and presented simply for interested stakeholders that maynot have accurate data on this new invasive pest.”

While the main objective of this publication is to raise awareness, it is also meant to serve as an important reference for professionals and farmers.The 12 chapters cover all the aspects of the pest, from distribution, biology, ecology, hosts, behaviour, rearing, natural enemies, different control measures, and its status in the Arab region. The authors reviewed some 200 references from around the world, extracting practical control methods. In addition to archiving available data, the authors added their individual field experiences in managing this pest during the last five years. They also established a philosophy of promoting IPM in the area.

Jboory said that this is the first book that includes control programme tactics in connection with corn plant stages. The book also categorizes insecticides according to the chemical groups focusing on biorational green-listed insecticides to control this pest.

Among the new knowledge gained through this FAW experience is an awareness of the fact the pest cannot be eradicated and that chemical pesticides do not help farmers, who are often made anxious by FAW’s destructive tendencies and its relative novelty, said Elkahky.

“Since FAW is a new invasive pest in the region, most farmers and policy-makers try to use the chemical control approach to eradicate it – which is almost impossible,” he said. The publication will also emphasize the importance of prevention and planning every step, beginning with the farmer planting seeds, said Yaseen.

Although FAW has a history in the central and south Americas, it began to migrate only recently.  Then, it moved very quickly: it was first officially recorded in Africa in 2016, hitting six countries before spreading beyond that continent. Since then, it has been reported across Asia, as far south as the Solomon Islands, across the Near East and North Africa. FAW is now a serious pest problem in the Middle East, particularly Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, and Palestine.

The shortage of knowledge concerning IPM approaches to managing FAW triggered the idea for this publication about five years ago, when FAW was first reported in the NENA region (in Sudan in 2017) but the actual writing and editing began about 18 months ago, said the authors.

Photo: Field training in Sohag, Egypt, July 2021

© Ramy Saied/ FAO