The agricultural sector, being the main contributor to the economy, has met hurdles that threaten to stifle it.
One of the most stubborn menace in the sector is the Fall Army Worm. In Kenya for instance, these pests have caused huge losses and farmers are grappling ways to contain the pests.
This is where the African Development Bank came in. The financial institution recently convened a meeting of experts and stakeholders in the agricultural sector to design integrated pest and disease management mechanisms for controlling the spread of the Fall Army Worm in East Africa.
The meeting brought together government representatives and fall army worm response coordinators from Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, the Seychelles, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Uganda in Nairobi, Kenya.
According to the African Development Bank’s Regional Manager for Eastern Africa Joseph Coompson, reports have shown that if no appropriate action is taken, fall army worm could use maize yield losses of 21-53 percent – valued at US$2.48 to 6.187 billion, in 12 African countries within five years.
This trend, if unchecked, “could significantly affect African countries which are already importing food estimated at US$35 billion annually and set to outstrip US$100 billion by 2026,” Coompson added.
Researchers from the FAO, the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology, the African Agricultural Technology Foundation and the Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International, Syngenta, Corteva and Bayer also presented current initiatives and technologies for controlling the fall army worm.
Country focal persons outlined their plans, including financial, policy and regulatory reforms required for achieving quick wins in the fight against the worm in East Africa. They also discussed options for providing effective technologies for combating the worm to smallholder farmers. They observed that in Southern Africa, Fortenza Duo, a seed treatment pesticide from Syngenta Foundation, proved effective against the worm in the first 30 days after crop emergence.
Also in attendance were representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Kenya’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock & Fisheries, regional and international stakeholders in the Agriculture sector. The United States Agency for International Development, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, the African Agricultural Technology Foundation and Syngenta Foundation were also represented at the meeting.
Other speakers and participants addressed ineffective chemicals and cultural control methods to reduce the fall armyworm threat. “We look forward to leaving this meeting with technology options to deploy to farmers in the coming season,” said David Mwangi, Head of Plant Protection Services with Kenya’s Ministry of Agriculture’s State Department for Crop Development.
“The submission of national and regional action plans to target millions of farmers shows the degree to which our “plan to action” approach against the fall army worm threat is being taken seriously and is galvanizing governments and farmers to protect not only fields, but livelihoods too,” said Chris Akem, TAAT Coordinator at IITA.