AFDB to tackle armyworm with technologies

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The African Development Bank (AfDB) says it will deploy an integrated approach and proven technologies in tackling the menace of fall armyworm in African countries.

The resolution was arrived at a high-level meeting on controlling fall armyworm in Central and West African states

Participants at the meeting were mainly representatives of the agriculture ministry’s from Central and West African countries.

Hon. Gaston Dossouhoui, Benin Republic’s Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Fishery, who presided over the closing ceremony, commended the organisers of the meeting.

The meeting was largely sponsored by the AfDB and the Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan.

The minister said the two organisations, through the forum, had provided a rare opportunity for Central and West African states to brainstorm and come up with proposals for possible funding and collaboration.

He urged officials from the two participating sub-regions to evolve bankable proposals within three months that could facilitate the implementation of the solutions proffered at the meeting.

The advice, he said, was given taking into consideration the respective national contexts and circumstances of participating countries.

The consensus of the meeting was a regional approach that emphasised Integrated Pest and Disease Management (IPDM) required containing fall armyworm.

Other solutions proffered against the rampaging fall armyworm included awareness creation on holistic management and training of stakeholders on the identification of fall armyworm.

Also recommended were synchronising cropping calendar and timely planting as well as broad-based dissemination of information via technologies such as SMS and apps.

Participants also agreed that work should start immediately to assess preferred crop varieties for resistance or tolerance to fall armyworm while classical biological control agents from the Americas should be introduced.

They further called for a conducive policy environment to promote lower risk control options through short-term subsidies and rapid assessment and registration of bio pesticides and biological control products.

Dr Winfred Hammond, a food security expert as well as resource person from Ghana, urged member-states to develop tools that was compatible with effective Integrated Pest Management (IPM) on fall armyworm.

“Tools such as seed treatment, time of planting, use of pheromones, scouting for eggs and neonates, mechanically damaging eggs and neonates and bio-rational and bio-control agents are effective in these efforts,” he said.

Jean-Baptiste Bahama, an official of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), noted that the operationalisation of the National Task Force on fall armyworm is key to efficiently coordinating preparedness and response through contingency planning.

He said it was on record that FAO had responded to the fall armyworm situation in Africa by developing tools, resources and installing of capacity for fall armyworm early warning system.

Bahama added that FAO also developed and ensured coordinating pesticide policies at national, regional and global levels.

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