National sensitization campaign on aggressive Fall Armyworm underway

Monday, January 29, 2018

Gambia’s agriculture stakeholders have begun a national sensitisation campaign following the confirmation by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) of the presence of the dreadful crop destructive pest called Fall Army Worm (FAW) in the country some months ago.

The campaign is being organized by the Department of Agriculture and its subsidiary plant protection services and the National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) in partnership with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) under the theme: Empowering farmers to combat Fall Armyworm through integrated pest management practices.

The campaign is targetted at raising awareness on the Fall Armyworm among the farming communities. According to statistics, the pest feeds on 80 different crop species except for Cassava and seriously infests maize. It eats leaves, flowers and fruits of the plant and damages are serious on late planting and late maturing plants. Highly infested fields could have 100% losses.

FAW (Spodoptera frugiperda) specie of caterpillars native to Americas is an alien pest that has been observed in more than 20 African countries where it has caused rancid destruction to food crops. It is classified to be destructive to maize but can also feed on other crops.

At Fass Njaga Choi weekly lumo in North Bank Region, the campaign coordinator Dr. Mustapha Ceesay from FAO said the pest has been discovered in the country since June, last year and they have since been working closely with government to help minimize its impact on food security and sustainable development.

The campaign technical assistant Dr. Faye Manneh from NARI urged farmers to increase plant diversity.

It is estimated that FAW in Africa has the potential to cause maize yield losses in a range from 8.3 to 20.6 metric tonnes per annum. The value of losses is estimated at between US$ 2, 481 to US$6,187 million. It is expected to spread throughout suitable habitats in mainland Sub-Saharan Africa within the next few cropping seasons.

Author: Abdoulie Nyokeh