Plateforme mondiale des Champs-Écoles des Producteurs

Ecological management of Fall ArmyWorm and Farmer Field Schools

Fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda), FAW, is an insect native to tropical and subtropical regions of the Americas. Its larval stage (photo) feeds on more than 80 plant species, including maize, rice, sorghum, millet, sugarcane, vegetable crops and cotton. FAW can cause significant yield losses if not well managed. It can have a number of generations per year and the moth can fly up to 100 km per night. FAW was first detected in Central and Western Africa in early 2016 (Benin, Nigeria, Sao Tome and Principe, and Togo) and subsequently, in the whole of mainland Southern Africa (except Lesotho and the Island States), in Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Ghana, Niger, Ethiopia, Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Uganda, and it is expected to go further. Its modality of introduction, along with its biological and ecological adaptation across Africa are still speculative. FAW is a dangerous transboundary pest with a high potential of continuing to spread due to its natural distribution capacity and trade. Farmers will need great support to sustainably manage FAW in their cropping systems through Integrated Pest Management (IPM).

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has taken a lead role in convening partners and in organizing consultation meetings resulting in a region-wide multi-stakeholder “Framework for the Coordinated Management of Fall Armyworm in Africa”. One of FAO’s key next steps for FAW work in Africa is “to support the design and implementation of a sustainable and ecological pest management programme for smallholder farmers in Africa, after looking at the experiences of farmers and researchers from the Americas” who have been living with the pest for several hundred years. Recommended management practices will be tried and adapted in the field via Farmers’ Field Schools (FFS) with farmers and farmers’ organizations across Africa, in collaboration with research and advisory services. Experiences and successes will be documented and shared to refine management options.

FFS FAW training in Malawi
FFS FAW training in Malawi

In fact, farmer education and community action are critical elements in the strategy to best manage FAW populations. That is why FFS – , a holistic farmer education approach promoted by FAO and many organizations worldwide as a platform s for farmers to learn, experiment and exchange on a vast range of topics and used in over 90 countries for nearly three decades – , will be used to support implementation of an integrated ecological and sustainable FAW management approach. To maximize outreach reach out, FFS will be combined with mass information campaigns, rural radio, participatory videos and short crash courses for farmers and rural advisors based on experiential learning.

Key activities

1. Inventory of FFS programmes across Africa.  Over 120 programmes identified with FFS components by multiple partners in 39 African countries, with whom to reach out and mainstream FAW topics. A number of Technical Cooperation projects have been developed by the FAO starting in 2018 to include FFS.

2. Regional, sub-regional and national training workshops for Farmer field school trainers, NPPO and extension

  • Africa Wide. Core team of 20 master trainers from all sub region during curriculum development and training workshop in Accra in July 2017
  • Sub-regional level. in 2017, 4 sub-regional worskhops were organized by FAO for NPPOs including FFS trainers (Nigeria, Malawi, Cameroun, Uganda). In 2018, two regional FAW IPM training sessions for trainers and researchers were organized in Central and Eastern Africa.
  • National level. National training of extension and FFS trainers held in Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, DRC, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal Zambia, Zimbabwe.

3. Development of FAW Training Guide for FFS and extension workers. The English and French versions of the guide were released in 2018. Translation in Portuguese is planned in 2019. The guide can be accessed here.

4. Community of Practice on FAW extension: The community interacts using a number of tools, such as the FAW Webpage on Global FFS Platform, Whatsapp group, a Technical Working group with virtual meetings. FAO monthly meetings with FFS Sub-Regional Networks and SROs. The development of M&E tools for FFS is underway.