Researchers of the
National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) have advised farmers to avoid
using chemicals on their crops for now as war against aggressive Fall Army
begins in earnest. They say that this
strategy can help the country to win its fight against Fall Army Worm (FAW)
that was discovered in the country last year.
Researchers say avoiding the use of chemicals on some crops may not be a good idea but it can help in the fight against the alien pest classified to be destructive to maize but can also feed on other crops.
During a recent national sensitisation campaign on the Fall Army worm, Dr. Faye Manneh, NARI’s principal research officer said there are other various measures to use to control the pest such as crop rotation, early planting, constant monitoring of farms and mix farming of cassava and maize.
The national sensitisation campaign was organised by the Department of Agriculture, NARI, plant protection service and funded by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO).
FAW (Spodoptera frugiperda) specie of caterpillars native to Americas is an alien pest that was observed in more than 20 African countries where it caused rancid destruction to food crops. It is classified to be destructive to maize but can also feed on other crops.
According to Dr. Manneh, the pest was discovered in The Gambia in March, last year following its discovery in other parts of Africa such as Nigeria, Ghana and Guinea. “As a result of that, the Plant Protection Services, NARI and other relevant stakeholders organised a meeting to set up a plan of action which monitoring was one of the top agenda,” he said.
He said during that meeting control measures emerged in case of the pest’s invasion of the country. “It was discovered at Kembujeh Women’s Garden, Radville Farm and Bakau Women’s Garden.”
He said NARI currently identifying botanical deficiencies to control the pest and also to access its level of impact on maize. “We also want to conduct surveillance to know the types of crops that can be invaded by the pest.”
Dr. Mustapha Ceesay, an agronomist working with FAO The Gambia said the purpose of the tour was to enable farmers to be aware of the damages the pest can cause to their crops especially maize.“We want them to be prepared for the next cropping seasons and to be able to identify the pest and to utilise the recommended integrated pest management approaches,” he said.