Last week, CABI confirmed that since it arrived in Africa in 2016, the Fall Armyworm (FAW) has been reported in 28 African countries, presenting a now permanent agricultural challenge for the continent. FAW mainly affects maize and can cut yields by up to 60%. In research funded by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), CABI estimate that, if not properly managed, the pest will cost 10 of Africa’s major maize producing economies a total of $2.2bn to $5.5bn a year in lost maize harvests.
The Fall armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda, is a major invasive pest in Africa. It has a voracious appetite and feeds on more than 80 plant species, including maize, rice, sorghum and sugarcane. Another feature which makes it an incredibly successful invasive species is its ability to spread and reproduce quickly. CABI have developed a poster to show the life cycle of the Fall armyworm, which includes egg, 6 growth stages of caterpillar development (instars), pupa and adult moth. Click here to view the full poster, or read about the life cycle below. Continue reading
Last year, one of the strongest El Niño events ever recorded caused significant changes to weather patterns around the world. Southern and Eastern Africa were hit particularly hard and suffered some of the worst drought conditions for decades, with as little as a quarter of the expected rainfall in the last few months of the year1. Drought is still having devastating impacts on crop yields in Africa, and humanitarian crises have been declared in the worst hit countries.
“No matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid!” Passionate words spoken in 2014 during an indelible Oscar moment. The utterance of these words, coupled with the winning of an Academy Award, announced Lupita Nyong’o’s entry into the global stage. Two years later in Lupita’s country of origin, Kenya, long-held dreams in the plant health sector are realized.
Indeed, the journey to realizing the usefulness of mobile technologies for the plant health sector has been long, and to some extent treacherous. Was the Plantwise program setting up the agricultural extension officers for failure? Was the program having unrealistic expectations? Could it be, in the program’s quest to keep up with the times, it was essentially building an ivory tower? All these were questions Plantwise grappled with in 2014 when it introduced mobile technologies for the running of plant clinics.
A small-scale farmer in Chilanga District, Moses Banda has seriously taken up vegetable production. Mr Banda commends Government for its continued support in assisting farmers in addressing crop problems and how best to control them organically.
“My vegetables always had holes due to Sefasefa (Diamond Back Moth) and all I could think of was spraying but little did I know that the chemicals were harmful not only to the soils but humans and the entire ecosystem. Through this interaction with the Plant Doctors, I have learnt insects are being resistant to chemicals and that we should consider treating these insects organically through the use of crop rotation and Neem tree, which is soaked in water and sprayed to infected plants,” he explained.
Plantwise addresses the constant struggle that small-scale farmers go through to produce food by providing affordable, locally available solutions to plant health problems.
Blog contributed by Martin Kimani (CABI) and Lito Malia (Plantwise National Coordinator, Mozambique)
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Farmer field schools (FFS) are essentially schools without walls that introduce new technological innovations while building on indigenous knowledge. In FFS, farmers are the experts. At a recently held FFS stakeholder and donor forum in Mozambique from 30th to 31st July 2015, CABI presented existing opportunities in linking FFS with Plantwise activities. The Forum brought together representatives from FAO, Agha Khan Foundation, IFAD, CARE, CABI, DNEA, DPA-Sofala, IAM, IIAM, DSV, and DINAS e SETSAN. This was a culmination of exploratory visits and meetings held earlier on in the year in Mozambique, Kenya and Rwanda.
“FFS builds farmers capacity to analyse their production systems, identify problems, test possible solutions and adopt practices most suitable to their production systems. It further, provides an opportunity for farmers to test and evaluate suitable land use technologies and introduce new technologies through comparing conventional ones and indigenous ones”, said Martin Kimani, the CABI Country Coordinator for Mozambique.
CABI presented opportunities for FFS and Plantwise linkages in Mozambique where both agricultural extension programmes can be jointly implemented. New farming technologies and approaches published in extension materials generated in the Plantwise programme will now benefit from existing testing and validation systems under FFS. This will result to a higher adoption and adaptation at farmer level leading top improved livelihoods. This was just one among many other potential benefits Martin highlighted at the meeting in linking the two programmes.
Some of the plant doctors in Mozambique are experienced FFS facilitators hence there is already an adequate potential and enthusiasm in linking FFS with Plantwise activities starting with Moamba district. FAO is currently running FFS in Manica, Vanduzi and Maomba districts.