Reblogged from BBC Future Written by Jose Luis Penarredonda
If you landed in Bogota in the 1960s, one of the first things you would have probably seen outside the airport was a giant billboard. In a slightly menacing tone, it said: “Coffee rust is the enemy. Don’t bring plant materials from abroad”.
It was one of the first warnings about a foe that has been threatening Colombia’s coffee trade ever since.
Ladiplantas (Laboratorio de Plantas) que se ubica en el pueblo agrícola de Comarapa, en los cálidos valles andinos de Bolivia, está bien integrado a la comunidad local. Ladiplantas es manejado por la Ing. Olivia Antezana, como parte del Centro de Investigación Agrícola Tropical (CIAT), de la Gobernación del Departamento de Santa Cruz, desde el 2000 (Bentley y Boa 2004). CIAT es una de las tres agencias agropecuarias de la Gobernación de Santa Cruz. Las otras son la Dirección de Sanidad Agroalimentaria (DSA) y el Servicio Departamental Agropecuario de Sanidad e Inocuidad Agroalimentaria (Sedacruz, antes Sedag).
Ladiplantas (Plant Laboratory) in the agro-town of Comarapa, in Bolivia’s low Andean Valleys, is well integrated into the farming community. Ladiplantas is run by agronomist Olivia Antezana, as part of CIAT (Research Centre for Tropical Agriculture), of the Departmental government of Santa Cruz, since 2000 (Bentley and Boa 2004). CIAT is one of the three agriculture agencies of the Government of Santa Cruz. The others are DSA (Directorate of Agricultural and Food Health) and Sedacruz (Departmental Service for Agriculture, Livestock and Food Safety; formerly Sedag).
La agricultura en el Perú se ha expandido rápidamente desde el 2000. Según el Instituto Nacional de Estadística e Informatica del Perú, el Producto Bruto Interno agrícola se ha más que duplicado entre 2000-2016. Este crecimiento estuvo relacionado a la ocupación de nuevas áreas agrícolas, pero aún por la diseminación de tecnología. El rápido acceso a insumos igualmente ha expuesto a los agricultores a intoxicación debido a una mala utilización de los mismos. Según el Ministerio de Salud, los casos anuales de notificación de intoxicación aguda por plaguicidas sobrepasa los 2000 indivíduos, siendo un 80% causado por exposición laboral. Este número no considera los casos de intoxicación crónica, por lo que el problema puede ser aún más grave.
Human health issues arising from the use of synthetic pesticides and concerns about their environmental toxicity are making lower-risk alternatives increasingly attractive. Biological control agents are living organisms which reduce harmful pest populations. Many people know of the common ladybird, whose larvae feed on aphids, but a wide range or biological control agents – e.g. predatory and parasitic insects, diseases of plant pests – are available. However, their use is still limited, in particular in low- and lower-middle-income countries.
Mr. Guze Kampinga visits the plant clinic at Dowa Turn Off with his damaged maize samples and is received by Mrs Eluby Phiri a trained plant doctor.
“I have grown about 0.8 ha of rain-fed and 0.4ha irrigated maize (Ndimba). This year a strange pest has seriously damaged my maize and almost all people in this village are experiencing the same problem. The pest started damaging the crop a few weeks after germination and has continued damaging the crop up to now. I first noticed the tips of the maize funnel chewed and stunting yet I had applied fertilizer and there was sufficient moisture. When I checked the funnel I found small caterpillars inside, which were growing very fast. Later the leaves were chewed and holes seen in the cobs, they also feed on the kernels. I have tried to control the pest to no avail”, said Mr Guze.
Kenya has launched a campaign to control the Fall Armyworm, (FAW) which has been sighted by farmers feeding on Maize in Trans Nzoia County, Kenya. Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mr. Willy Bett said the pest poses a serious threat to the country’s food security situation.
“Its impact will be severe given that the country is just recovering from a drought that has affected food production. This risk is heightened since Trans Nzoia is the country’s grain basket producing maize both for seed and for consumption. The government has allocated 200million Kenya shillings for the campaign and we are working with partners to help us fight this pest”. The pest is spreading fast and has been spotted in 10 other counties of Bungoma, Kakamega, Uasin Gishu, Kwale, Taita Taveta, Nandi, Makueni, Vihiga, Busia, and Kisumu.