FAO in Jamaica, Bahamas and Belize

Reducing beet armyworm outbreaks in Jamaica

In a bid to help protect locally produced onions and scallions, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Jamaican Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MOAF) launched a Beet Armyworm Management Programme in 2013. This initiative was launched to assist farmers in managing their plots and reducing the effects of the pests threatening to damage the onion and scallion production in St. Elizabeth and neighboring parishes.

The project includes several on-the-ground and hands-on components to reduce incidences of beet armyworm outbreaks across the worst affected areas (parishes) of the island. Project activities included various training sessions, pest forecasting management tools and a Farmer Field School (FFS) which have all worked together to reduce the beet armyworm outbreak in Jamaica

Under the FFS approach, farmers worked together to solve common agricultural production problems. They also met with trained facilitators and carried out simple experiments and exercises aimed at addressing the problems they encountered in their fields.

Referring to the beet armyworm intervention, FAO representative in Jamaica, noted that the technical assistance provided was in line with FAO’s aim to assist in situations where employment and livelihood development were challenged. He also pointed to the FFS approach as a useful and effective one in meeting the programme’s aims and objectives.

Under the project, agricultural extension officers and over 150 scallion and onion farmers across Jamaica were trained in the integrated pest management approaches against the beet armyworm.

At the end of December 2015, zonal plant health and Food Safety Officer for the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) of the Western Region, Lawrence Rowe, says that the reduction is due to the ministry’s and other stakeholders’ intervention strategies.

According to Rowe, the international support from FAO was significant as the Organization provided technical support in the development of management strategies. He also indicated that since 2013 there have been no major beet armyworm outbreaks.

Under FAO’s Beet Armyworm Management Programme, a pest forecasting system was also developed and a beet armyworm management video was created and made available to farmers island-wide. View the Management of Beet Armyworm Video.